Opinion: What will OVP Duterte use the confidential funds on?

At Senate hearing on the Office of the Vice President’s 2023 budget, Senate President Migz Zubiri appeals to colleagues to extend “courtesy” to the OVP and keep proceedings short. Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Pimentel Jr. says they would like to respectfully ask questions. Pimentel asks about the P500 million confidential funds requested by the OVP under Vice President Sara Duterte: P500 million in one year. So may we know how are we also to answer the questions asked to us? How to justify this item in the OVP’s budget? Duterte does not answer the question and instead repeats Sen. Sonny Angara’s manifestation that OVP received intel and confidential funds from 2003 to 2012. She leaves amounts and propriety of confidential funds they are asking for 2023 up to Senate’s discretion. After around 40 minutes, Senate panel ends deliberations on the OVP’s proposed 2023 budget” (Philstar.com, 29.09.2022).

This isn’t good news from Manilla. The usage of confidential funds usually are used to keep secret budget posts and things of nature with national security or the intelligence community. In such a manner, that the army or the intelligence agencies can keep things under wraps, which to most of us make sense. Since we are not supposed to know all the inner works or the means of keeping the nation safe.

However, the Office of the Vice President and Minister of Education, Sara Duterte need for it is more questionable. Especially, when she cannot answer and only uses arguments for why it happened in the past. That’s just disgraceful for a government official and someone who is accountable to the citizens. It is just acting like it’s beneath her to be accountable and transparent.

Because confidential budgets or budget posts are no oversight over. Neither will there be reporting or substantial goals to be achieved. The OVP can spend these funds as she deems fit, and no one can question her. Sara Duterte can pay of allies, parties, or campaign debt for that matter. The OVP can buy new houses, cars and whatever she wants really. This is a massive pork barrel and a possible slush-fund.

We have no idea where these monies will go. She can pay out old lovers, side-dishes, and even other questionable characters if she likes. I can just speculate because what is the reason to have it confidential? It isn’t like she’s part of the intelligence community or the army. Those places I have mentioned it makes sense, but for her. No. I don’t see it, but that’s just me.

It isn’t a good sign either that’s she’s not willing to respond or give any sort of good reason for why. She is not living in 2003-2012, are she? Because we are currently in 2022 and she got to be accountable for her time. VP Duterte cannot expect people to accept reasoning for previous leaders, especially when she is not forthcoming with arguments or possible expenditure. This is just free money and without any strings attached. That’s why she can use it for whatever and no one can deem it wrong.

If she orders rice, tanduay or anything else. We just cannot know. The OVP has a funds and cash supplies that can be spent wherever she wants. It can fund her dad’s retirement. Pay off allies in Davao, keep the Duterte dynasty alive or just old debts in general.

I am just asking questions because there was no real answer. It is just public funds used without any sort of checks-or-balances. Meaning the OVP can spend it, and no one has anything to say about it. That’s the pure meaning of free money. Peace.

Philippines: Commission on Elections (COMELEC) – Signing of Memorandum of Understanding for the COMELEC-UNDP Project on Strengthening the Poll Body’s Digitalisation Capacity to Promote Women’s Political Participation (27.09.2022)

Philippines: Movement Against Disinformation (MAD) – Statement No. 19 – Statement against the Red-Tagging of a Member of the Bench (25.09.2022)

Philippines: Office of the Vice President, Sara Z. Duterte – Message (15.09.2022)

Philippines: Marcos Jr. – All sugar isn’t sweet… Part II

BOC in Subic intercepted a cargo vessel from Thailand loaded with 7,000 metric tons or some 140,000 bags of sugar. The move comes after Pres. Marcos ordered the pursuit of smuggled sugar in the country amid its soaring prices” (ABS-CBN News, 18.08.2022).

Medalla: I have heard from Sec. Balisacan, they are now close to arriving at an agreement that food processing companies will be allowed to import at least half of their sugar needs. As you reduce demand from food processors, because they are allowed to import, this will increase supply to all other users, and hopefully reduce sugar prices” (ABS-CBN News, 18.08.2022).

In Manilla and in the Office of the President there is huge crisis surrounding sugar. The basic commodity used by industry and by ordinary consumers I.E. the citizen. There has already been outrage and been a public outcry over the Sugar Order No. 4 and the powers given to the former Department of Agriculture Undersecretary Leocardio S. Sebastian. It took only a months time from the appointment of him to the erratic scandal, which the whole administration is going through.

The 300,000 metric tons of sugar in the Sugar Order No. 4 was cancelled, but foreign imported sugar is already arriving in the ports. That’s why just this week there are reports for a shortage. Soda companies are claiming they lack sugar for the production. This being Coca-Cola Company and PepsiCo. These are both popular soft-drinks who lacks sugar for their production.

While there is new proposals of a new Sugar Order only importing 150,000 tons of Sugar by October. While the government claims to be raiding warehouses and hoarders of sugar in the Republic. In such a way to curb the rising prices and the “lack” of Sugar in the market-place. That’s two very different approaches. Which is just very odd…

Because, if the nation has run out of sugar and has nothing on the market. How can the government go and say there hoarders of it? This means the Sugar mills and the owners of the distilleries are lying about the production and stockpiling it. While the prices are soaring in the ”lack” of it. While the government still insist to import and not use the stockpiled products. Since it still proposes to use the imported sugar.

It doesn’t help that the Office of the President has promised an investigation into the matter. More of the Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA) members has resigned. While later the President plans to revise the body and it’s work.

On top of this is reported as well: “House Minority Leader Marcelino Libanan files House Resolution 259 seeking a congressional inquiry into the Sugar Regulatory Administration’s ‘illegal’ order to import 300,000 metric tons of sugar” (CNN Philippines, 17.08.2022).

President Marcos Jr. who is not only the President, but also the head of the Department of Agriculture. This all fall onto him and his burden to carry. His signature of the first Sugar Order Volume 4 is there. He did discuss the Sugar Industry as a part in a meeting on the 1st of August ahead of the Sugar Order Volume 4, which was published on the 9th August 2022. That’s why everything that has transpired since then has been in connection with this.

The scandal isn’t looking any better by the day. It is only looking incompetent and lacking of focus. Since there are certain lacks of quality refined sugar for certain industries. While the prices and inflation are souring as well. That’s because of the needs and the lack of produced sugar. Even if the Department and such says there are. The producers wouldn’t say it would lack. Even if the farmers and the millers says there enough for everyone.

This is just a whole mess and so early in the Presidency. Surely, the President knows this is looking badly on him. Not only the Sugar Order Vol. 4, but the shortage and the industry as a whole. This is all hurting him and his only beginning. There is a reason why it seems out of control and without a well thought out plan. Since, they are only making patch-work and not a full sort of programme from the farmer to the producers or to the consumer. It is just what is needed to avoid one crisis and stagnate another one.

President Marcos Jr. has gotten into a pickle by taking the two roles at once. Instead of growing into the Presidency and showing his character as a leader. He wanted to a big man from the on-set. The burden and the possible work-load seem enormous. Might be prestigious to be both at the same time. However, this scandal shows it’s too much and to many details.

That’s why the Department of Agriculture would be better served with a professional and also another person. Who can follow Presidential Orders and such, but be in it day-to-day. Because, right now… it’s not only a scandal, but a hectic mess. The sort of business and government crisis, which could have been avoided. There is enough people knowing what is going on and who can have the head in the game. However, the President doesn’t seem up to it.

He just wants the glory, the titles and the power, which all the offices he resides in. Nevertheless, with all power, comes responsibility. That responsibility seem to much on him. He might mean well and think he has a purpose. Though the sugar and the sweetener it is… has exposed him and his lack of touch.

This is just bitter and not sweet. Marcos Jr. is just showing inept to do all of this and his Executive Secretary in the Office of the President cannot save him either. This is all on him and even if tries to deflect blame on everyone else. He is the head, not only of state, but of the Department too. The SRA is getting reorganized and there is a supposed investigation in the works.

However, what all of this showed is that he cannot carry this alone. The President cannot manage or have the ability face it all. There is to many stakeholders, priorities and needs to sufficiently get it done. That’s why his failing and somehow his not looking stronger, but looking incompetent.

Ferdinand “BongBong” Marcos Junior would be better off. He would be better of in the Malacañang Palace and being a full-time President. It looks like it would serve him much better and maybe he could have come with some orders from on high in the time of need. Instead his in a sea of trouble in a Department of Agriculture and doesn’t seem to know the way out. Peace.

Philippines: Foundation for Economic Freedom, INC. – FEF Statement on Taming Sugar Prices and Inflation (16.08.2022)

Philippines: National Citizens’ Movement for Free Elections (NAMFREL) – NAMFREL urges Congress to rethink the voter registration process (15.08.2022)

Philippines: President Marcos Jr. – All sugar isn’t sweet…

This week has been terrible for the President Ferdinand “BongBong” Marcos Jr. who has been caught into a web of scandal. This is involving the second office his holding, which is as the Secretary of the Department of Agriculture. That Marcos Jr. decided to be both the Head of State and the Minister of Agriculture has already backfired. Because, his now parts of or given powers to someone underneath him, which happens to be the Undersecretary of the Department of Agriculture.

This week has proven that the President shouldn’t hold two offices at the same time, but would be better to have appointed a trusted a fellow to run it. Since, the mismanagement has come this quickly. It didn’t take longer to a scandal rocking him and now the turns of trying to shift the blames start.

We know today that the Undersecretary has resigned and apologised for the Sugar Order Volume 4, but the investigation is just launched. Therefore, the whole entirety will unfold. The signatures and the whole deal. As it started to it finished. We can really wonder what went down between the release of the Sugar Order Vol. 4 and the Meeting which the President presided over. That was only 8 days between and something has to be said there. They don’t just order 300,000 metric tons of sugar on a whim. There is some sort of planning, before execution and making the measures in the Sugar Regulatory Administration.

That’s why I have made this time of what has dripped out so far…

On the 15th July 2022 Executive Secretary Victor Rodriguez on behalf of the President sent out a Memorandum giving Undersecretary of Agriculture, Leocardio S. Sebastian vast power within the Department of Agriculture. Not only the as the Chief of Staff of the Department, but many other powers invested in him. That Memorandum was from the Executive Secretary of the Office of the President and gave the Undersecretary his clear role.

1st August 2022:

NEWS UPDATE: President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. presides a meeting as the secretary of the Department of Agriculture to discuss the course of actions that the department will take for the sugar and coconut industry” (PTVph, 01.08.2022).

9th August 2022:

The Sugar Regulatory Administration published Sugar Order Volume 4: “Second Sugar Import Program for Crop Year 2021-2022, which states the importation of 300,000 metric tons of sugar. The sugar was supposed to designated partly half of it to industrial users and the other half to the traders.

11th August 2022:

Undersecretary of Agriculture Leocardio S. Sebastian sends his resignation letter to President Marcos Jr. and apologises for the Sugar Order Volume 4. While also resigning from the post, which he only was appointed to in July.

12th August 2022:

“Heads are going to roll” following an investigation over the supposed “unauthorized” signing of a document directing the importation of 300,000 metric tons of sugar, Press Secretary Trixie Cruz-Angeles emphasized on Thursday. “An investigation is ongoing to determine whether any act that would cause the President to lose trust and confidence in his officials can be found or if there is malice or negligence involved. In such a case, if such findings are made, then the only determination left will be how many heads are going to roll,” Cruz-Angeles said in a press briefing. Angeles described as “illegal” Sugar Order No. 4 issued by the Sugar Regulatory Administration, which supposedly directs the importation of 300,000 metric tons of sugar. “The Chairman of the Sugar Regulatory Board is President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. As such, the chairman sets the date of any meetings or convening of the Sugar Regulatory Board and its agenda. No such meeting was authorized by the President or such a resolution likewise, was not authorized,” said Cruz-Angeles” (Alaine Allanigue – ‘Heads to roll over ‘unauthorized’ importation of 300,000 MT of sugar’ 12.08.2022, Philippine Information Agency – PIA).

We don’t know yet the whole scope of this, but the things are twisted together. There are missing pieces and more has to be unleashed on the masses. This here sugar scandal came early. It was only barely month after the Executive Secretary wrote the memorandum giving the Undersecretary vast powers to the Sugar purchase or imports was in order. That is saying something and the President has also signed on the Sugar Order Vol. 4. So, he had to knew and cannot act totally oblivious. The man cannot be that docile and not know what is going on in his department. That is something I have a hard time to believe.

Time will tell, but what we do know is that all sugar isn’t sweet. Certainly Marcos Jr. should be more careful ahead and he should reconsider the ability to both be the head of state and a secretary over a Department. Yes, he wants to do so show that he cares and priorities the sector. However, it would be better to craft legislation and policy changes as President. Than trying to control this, as well, as being the President. That seems to much to ask…

The investigation will now buy everyone time, but the truth will come out. This happen in such a short window and early in the administration. So, it is not like everyone has settled in or gotten used to the new offices. Therefore, this should be brief and quick. As parts of the paperwork is already online. The President can also be implicated, because he sat in the meeting on the 1st August and on the 9th August the Sugar Order Vol. 4 was published. An inquiry will even dig deeper and things tend to connect together. Peace.

Philippines: National Citizens’ Movement for Free Elections (NAMFREL) – Young NAMFREL Members on the 2022 BSKE (08.08.2022)

Opinion: Bong Bong Marcos, what changed since 2011?

The Philippines has no intention of rejoining the ICC” – President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr (01.08.2022).

The Philippines President was only sworn-in on the 30th June 2022 and we are now in the start of August 2022. President Ferdinand “BongBong” Marcos Junior is already hit with controversy. A sort of affair he could have avoided and made disappear. However, he instead wants to show force and continue where his predecessor left off. That makes it easier for him and less obstacles, if he needs to use military means or violent aggression against “targeted groups” within the republic.

Duterte revoked the Rome Statute:

The Philippines ’ withdrawal from the ICC, already took effect on March 17, 2019, exactly a year after Duterte revoked the Rome Statute, a treaty that created the international court. The country severed ties from the ICC after its special prosecutor Fatou Bensouda started a preliminary examination on the alleged human rights violations under the administration’s anti-drug war” (Azer Parrocha – ‘PRRD upheld PH sovereignty by withdrawing from ICC: Andanar’ 17.03.2021).

So, the Philippines has only been over 3 years outside the International Criminal Court (ICC). The Philippines is following a small or marginalized group of nations who isn’t part of it. That’s saying a lot about the values and the wills of the government in Manilla. I’m not shocked, but expected this by Marcos Jr. as his not the sort of fella who wants oversight or anyone look into his deeds. That’s the sort of thing ICC does and it could be a bad look.

What is striking however… is that the same man as a then Senator signed off on a Resolution to ratify the Rome Statute in 2011. it is the same man that is no accepting and continuing the path of not being part of the ICC. That is saying something and shows what sort of man he is. Because, he signed off and wanted it to happen in 2011.

Now in 2022 the game is different and the office is also very appealing. The President wants to look strong and spread his vision. That’s very clear here and its obvious why. In 2011 he wanted to signal and show that he was a changed man. That he possibly wasn’t like his father and wanted the nation to be changed for the better. Now in office, he don’t want investigators or independent bodies to undermine his authority. He wants to reign supreme and have a say in what’s going on. His allies and the political elite his a part of. Cannot bare the burden of burying or double-crossing the ones who helped him to office.

That’s why Marcos Jr. cannot issue a resolution or a motion, even executive order to get the Philippines to sign and ratify the Rome Statue into Philippines Law. The ones that are in dire shock and feel in disbelief haven’t followed the Malacañang politicking or how the Philippines government have operated of late. Marcos Jr. isn’t revolutionizing things, but instead following the line or policies of Duterte. No one should be surprised here.

Marcos Jr. want to seem like a big-man and a strong leader. He needs to show force and resilience. If not he will be mocked and be ridiculed. An easy of getting ahead is to use foreign interference and block foreign entities from acting on Filipino soil. That’s what his doing with the ICC and will possibly do with others.

Even if he did in his SONA speech said this:

We will be a good neighbor – always looking for ways to collaborate and cooperate with the end goal of mutually beneficial outcomes. If we agree, we will cooperate and we will work together. And if we differ, let us talk some more until we develop a consensus. After all, that is THE FILIPINO WAY” (Marcos Junior, 25.07.2022).

So, it is ironic that he just said these words mere week apart. Also a decade later his not trying to rejoin or willing to do so. That’s because his worried about the possible investigation and what it could unravel. This would hurt his allies and his reign. Marcos Junior needs these ones to stay in office and he knows that. They wouldn’t have backed him or been supporting his campaign if not. That’s it really….

The ones who don’t get that. Should check upon the characters that threw their weight onto his campaign and the parties who aligned itself with Bong Bong Marcos. These are the ones who needs to be shielded and not worry about tomorrow. Peace.

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