How con-veee-nient

Buencamino writes political commentary for Action for Economic Reforms. This article was published in Business Mirror June 27, 2007 edition, p. A6.

My Palace source was concerned about the recent surge of robberies.

“People have no respect for anything anymore,” he lamented.

“Because someone stole election documents from Lintang Bedol?”

“Yes, but that’s not the only robbery that occurred,” he replied.

“Who else was robbed?” I asked.

“Well, remember that $329 million contract signed between DOTC (Department of Transportation and Communications) and ZTE, the one Mrs. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo witnessed?”

“So?”

“It was stolen from the hotel room of the Philippine commercial attaché.”

“Really? Why, who?” I asked.

“We think it was done by people who wanted to derail the contract.”

“How could stealing those contracts mess up the deal, were there no other copies?”

“None. We had to reconstitute the whole thing.”

“Reconstitute or reconstruct?”

“What’s the difference?”

“Look it up. Anyway, is that why the contract was not made available to the public right away, because you were reconstituting it?”

“Yes, and we kept it under wraps because it was a national shame.”

“What was a national shame, the contract or the theft? …But seriously, you told the Chinese and ZTE about your little problem, right?”

“Yes, and they were very helpful and sympathetic.”

“I can imagine why.”

“We did ask the NBI (National Bureau of Investigation) to investigate,” he added.

“You mean the Chinese government allowed the NBI to conduct a robbery investigation in their territory? Did the NBI send a crack Chinese-speaking investigation team to interrogate Chinese suspects?”

“Why don’t you ask the NBI yourself?” he said, irritated.

“Okay, let’s move on. What other robberies do you have?” I asked.

“License plates,” he replied.

“Where?”

“From an impounded vehicle in an army compound in Bulacan.”

“Huh?”

“Some people sneaked into an army camp in Bulacan, stole license plates from an impounded vehicle, attached those stolen plates to another vehicle, most likely stolen too, drove to a busy shopping mall, and kidnapped a young man in front of hundreds of witnesses.”

“Why go through all that trouble?”

“I guess to make the AFP look bad.”

“That’s a bit too convoluted for me to follow. Let’s go back to Lintang Bedol and the stolen Maguindanao election documents. Did [Comelec chief Benjamin] Abalos find them?”

“Yes, in General Santos City.”

“Is General Santos City in Maguindanao?”

“No, stupid. General Santos City is in South Cotabato. Maguindanao is a different province.”

“Huh?”

“The recovered election documents were brought to Abalos in General Santos City, from Maguindanao.”

“So Abalos could very well have waited for those documents at the PICC.”

“Yes but he wanted to be sure that those documents would not be tampered with during transit from General Santos City to Manila.”

“But how did he know they were not tampered in Maguindanao to begin with?”

“Well, that’s beside the point.”

“Hmmm… that’s even more tortuous than the license plate robbery tale, dude. What else was stolen?”

“Investigation reports on that Post Office fire in Pasay City.”

“What happened?”

“Someone who wanted to derail the investigation stole the reports.”

“Now that, I can follow…any other robberies?”

“Mikey Arroyo’s identity.”

“What?”

“Yes. Mikey had to sit in a meeting with his mother and her new anti-smuggling czar to tell them that some people were using his name to facilitate the release of questionable shipments.”

“Like race horses and stuff?”

“Among other things.  The anti-smuggling czar said Mrs. Arroyo was very angry about the identity theft. He said she said ‘she will not hesitate to use an iron fist against anyone who will drag the First Family’s name in the illegal deals at the Bureau of Customs.’”

“Well, that’s not unexpected. What about the vehicle used in the strafing of the house of Aquilino Jacob Jr., the retired police general close to Mayor Jejomar Binay of Makati, was that stolen too?”

“You mean the black Honda sedan assigned to Pagcor?”

“Yes, that one.”

“That car was last seen in Pagcor premises one week before the shooting. A lot can happen in a week…”

I interrupted him, “Okay, I get the picture.”

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