The incontinent one

Buencamino writes political commentary for Action for Economic Reforms.  This article was published in Business Mirror October o3, 2007 edition, p. A10.

If you see something on your lap, something brown that smells and is covered with flies, do you need anyone to tell you what it is?

But let’s pretend nobody came out with allegations of bribery. Let’s pretend the contract was not stolen and reconstituted, and the government really needs its own broadband network—something Sen. Mar Roxas accurately compared to an expressway for the exclusive use of government vehicles. Let’s see if the ZTE deal will look and smell like something else.

Once upon a time Gloria Arroyo laid out clear policy guidelines for the broadband network: build, operate, and transfer; no loans; no sovereign guarantees; use and pay rather than take or pay. Then one day, suddenly and without any explanation, she reversed those guidelines.

Can she tell us why the ZTE deal was so hastily approved that her Cabinet cannot even make up its mind whether it’s a supply contract or an executive agreement?

Can Mrs. Arroyo tell us why she allowed a contract of this magnitude to be signed even if it did not follow the proper sequence of steps as dictated by law and regulations?

Can she explain why a concessionary loan is better than no loan at all?

Can she explain why it’s better to spend billions of pesos to own and operate an exclusive network that taxpayers will pay for whether the government uses it or not, rather than a network whose services taxpayers will pay for only when the government uses it?

Can she tell us how, and why, the Department of Justice (DOJ) rendered an opinion on a contract it never even saw?

Can she tell us why the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) did not furnish a copy of the contract to the DOJ when DOTC Chief Leandro Mendoza admitted to the Senate that his department had finished reconstituting the contract on May 24, weeks before the DOJ rendered its opinion?

Can she tell us why she allowed Mendoza to keep the departments of justice, trade, finance, budget, the executive secretary, the Palace legal counsel, and the public in the dark?

Is pushing through with the deal only a legal matter to be settled by the Supreme Court, or more important, is it a taxpayer expense that must be justified?

The public is asking these questions, but instead of giving straight answers, Mrs. Arroyo’s appointees obfuscate rather than clarify. They hem and haw and pass the buck around.

Thus the public cannot help but suspect something weird about the way the government has been behaving in connection with ZTE.

They would have been left scratching their heads had not Jarius Bondoc, Joey De Venecia III, and Romulo Neri, albeit reluctantly, exposed the bribes and made sense out of the whole issue. But do we stop there?

Are we going to pretend that the only person in the Philippines who can reverse, suddenly and inexplicably, a clearly enunciated economic development policy is not the one who unloaded that smelly, fly-covered ZTE deal on us?

Mind you, this is not the first time Mrs. Arroyo has dropped something disgusting on our laps. She has been doing it since 2001, from her first days in power, when Nani Perez approved the sovereign guarantee for IMPSA.

It seems the lady is incontinent. She cannot control herself. So, should we just avert our eyes and cover our noses because anyway we only have to bear her incontinence until 2010?

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