CIVIL society groups that helped install Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo as President in 2001 will form a "truth commission" to look into the wiretapped tapes linking her to election fraud.
The groups said they would invite former president Corazon Aquino to help the fact-finding body whose members could possibly be composed of retired justices and other legal and technical experts.
Saying that the Arroyo administration has a "serious credibility problem," the convenors of the commission said that only an independent body composed of persons of "unquestionable integrity could fully resolve the vital questions surrounding the tapes."
Uh-huh... here's more:
"Only the truth will lay to rest the brewing political crisis brought about by the controversy surrounding the tapes," said Dan Songco of the group Pagbabago@Pilipinas, a newly formed alliance of civil society organizations.
On Thursday, the groups will hold a Citizens' Assembly (C4T) at the Ateneo de Manila University in Quezon City to choose the commission members. The convenors of the assembly include Pagbabago@Pilipinas and the Bishop-Businessmen's Conference for Human Development.
Sixdon Macasaet of the Caucus of Development of NGO Networks (Code NGO) said the commission would investigate the tapes with or without Malacanang's backing.
Macasaet said they believed the President should break her silence to arrest people's doubts that she cheated in the May 2004 election.
Tañada said the commission would first determine the authenticity of the tapes to determine if it was the President's voice.
She said the commission would ask local and foreign experts to examine the tapes. "Then maybe, we can also examine its contents."
Songco said that civil society members had various views on the current political turmoil, with some taking the extreme position of asking the President to step down.
But majority are supportive of the formation of the commission as a way of finding out the truth, Songco said.
Asked to describe their relationship with the President, Macasaet said many of them were "dissatisfied" with the pace of her reforms, particularly in the areas of agrarian reform and socialized housing.
Songco however said it was "premature" to call for her resignation.
A number of Cabinet officials of the Arroyo administration came from the civil society -- Social Welfare Secretary Corazon Juliano Soliman and Adviser on Peace Process Teresita Deles, among them.
"Independent" and "unquestionable integrity" are not the first words that come to my mind when I think of Dan Songco and CODE-NGO. Songco and CODE-NGO benefitted greatly from it's connections with the Arroyo Administration.
Remember PEACE Bonds? CODE-NGO's Mr. Songco and Marissa Camacho's (former finance secretary's sister) "laway and koneksyon" earned them about P1.4 billion (that we Filipino taxpayers will eventually pay) thru "lutong makaw".
THE P35 billion Peace Bonds were sold at public auction. There are strict rules governing the conduct of public auctions by the government. If these rules are not followed or enforced, then a crime is committed, some officials are criminally responsible and the subsequent award is legally questionable and may be invalidated.
The character of the winning bidder or the nobility of the purpose is irrelevant. The only relevant issue is: Were the rules followed? After just one hearing by the Senate Finance Committee, it is very clear that the auction conducted by National Treasurer Sergio Edeza was rigged, or was "lutong macao" as described by Sen. John Osmeña. The following facts came out:
1) Instead of the usual tamper- proof electronic bidding procedure, a manual system using fax transmissions was used.
2) The announcement of bidding conditions was made just one day before the auction on Oct. 16. Bureau of Treasury rules call for at least three working days notice.
3) Some of the favorable features of the bond issue were not announced to all, with only RCBC/Code NGO knowing them well in advance.
4) In the 50-year history of the Bureau of Treasury, this is the first time that a single bidder (RCBC) won all the bids for such a big amount.
5) The winning bid of RCBC was way below the other bidders at 16.5 to 17.5 percent, thus confirming that in this very exclusive field of expert securities dealers, the other bidders did not know all the favorable terms and conditions, like tax exemption and eligibility for reserve requirements.
6) It was admitted that RCBC/Code NGO was the one which proposed all the conditions for the bond issuance, secured the approvals from the government offices concerned. One approval, that of the Insurance Commission, was secured by RCBC/Code NGO only one month after the auction on Oct. 16. But it was clear that was committed to Code/NGO before the bid and obviously unknown to other bidders.
7) RCBC Vice President Valentin Bagatsing testified that as early as March, they had priced the correct bid at 11 percent.
8) The winning bid was submitted at 12.75 percent with a guaranteed "profit" to Code NGO of P1.8 billion.
9) The 2 percent commission to RCBC was high, considering the amount of the bond issued which was P10 billion. Usual rate would be one-half percent.
10) RCBC was sure to win the bid because it had already lined up clients to immediately buy from RCBC Capital instantaneously after the completion of the auction.
11) This winning bidder, beneficiary, Code NGO, is headed by a sister of the Secretary of Finance whose department conducted and awarded the bonds. This was a deal designed to make money from the government for a private organization, Code NGO, something which Marissa Camacho Reyes and Dan Songco proudly admit.
There is no clearer proof of irregularity. The question is: Will Ombudsman Desierto dare take cognizance of this case? Will he include all of those government officials who approved the deal?
One fundamental question must be raised: What did we need P10 billion so badly that we had to issue zero coupon bonds when the same money could have been source through the regular treasury bills auctions at interest rates 3 to 4 percent lower?
After Fr. Tito Caluag, S.J., was tricked and burned in the Ador Mawanay fiasco, Ateneo alumni are wondering why Fr. Noel Vasquez, treasurer of Ateneo University, got involved in this deal by agreeing to be the chair of the newly formed Peace Foundation.
As a matter of fact, Code NGO lists its office address at Ateneo, Loyola Heights.
Sen.. John Osmeña has questioned the transfer of funds from Code NGO to Peace Foundation as irregular. He observed that the Peace Foundation is composed of ten people, four of whom are Marissa Camacho Reyes and her brother, Lito as well as DSWD Secretary Dinky Soliman and her husband, Atty. Hector Soliman.
Atty. Tito Tanjuatco, Red Mayo and Bobby Guevarra are smart guys. For a few months work in these times of economic depression, they made P100 million.
But what was the P20 million "donation" daw to Code NGO for? Was that negotiated before the deal by Dan Songco too?
Plus, here's Dan Songco on the PEACE Bonds:
Myth: Delicadeza was a major issue for Code-NGO.
Fact: False. Not at least to Danilo Songco, executive director of Code-NGO:
“[W]e were on the verge of making P1.3 billion and we would give up the opportunity out of delicadeza? Sobra naman yata yun. Kung personal kaming makikinabang pwede pa but it was potentially all of civil society that would gain from the fund....I will ask those who will raise it: If you were in our shoes, would you have quit at that point out of delicadeza?”
“We just couldn't turn back because of delicadeza. There was too much to lose in exchange for virtues which we would have foolishly imposed on ourselves when no one else in government bothers to do the same.”