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ILOILO, DIIN KA PAKADTO? (March 11, 2019)

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Political strategy in the age of social media

This political season is an interesting study on how candidates are making use of social media for their campaigns.
Without a doubt, social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube possess a tremendous influence on the minds of voters, particularly those below the age of 60.
While traditional media platforms like television, radio and newspapers are still very much in the game, studies have shown that their audience shares are dwindling.
This is particularly true for print media. But TV and radio have not been spared, and one indicator is the declining advertising revenue for these traditional media platforms and increasing advertising in social media.
As a political observer, I have been looking at the social media activities of local candidates, and there are still several who hardly have a presence even just on Facebook.
I liken these candidates to static, inflexible and clumsy armies over the centuries that have been decimated on the battlefield by opponents that were quick to adapt to changing times and embrace technology.
And social media requires a well-crafted message to voters.
Candidates must be aware that the competition for voters’ attention is broad and tight.
If you have lousy content, if you don’t present a message that resonates in the hearts and minds of voters, then you might as well pack up and leave the arena of battle.
Remember, as much as 75% (or even more) of voters depend on social media for their news, information and entertainment.

Gov. Defensor tries to salvage son’s candidacy as survey shows him sliding toward defeat

Up until mid-December 2018, the camp of Governor Arthur Defensor, Sr. has always trumpeted on the overwhelming lead in RACI surveys that his son, Toto, enjoyed over rival Cong. Ferj Gonzales Biron Full in the gubernatorial race.
Indeed, early surveys have placed Toto maintaining a comfortable 30% lead over Biron in the RACI surveys, giving the Defensor camp an overflowing dose of confidence.
But as I have always said before, that lead was influenced by a wrong notion among many voters that it was Arthur Defensor Sr. who was running.
As a result, Toto, by mistake, reaped a commanding portion of the expected votes from the surveys.
At the same time, Biron had not yet gone into high gear with his campaign.
And many people were unaware that the “knight in shining armor” image of the senior Defensor was a deception. His administration was a bird’s nest of corruption during the last 8 and a half years.
Then the flood gates opened.
The exposes on the corruption of the elder Defensor started.
Toto Defensor lined the highways and filled the airwaves with his propaganda using his “Toto” nickname instead of his real name with a “Jr.” prominently displayed.
And Biron went on the offensive with his personal visits to the different towns of the province.
At the bat of an eyelash (to borrow the phrase from John Bayona Castigador), Toto’s commanding lead vanished into thin air.
In the survey conducted by RACI for the period December 8-12, 2018, Toto’s numbers plummeted while Biron climbed steadily, and the two were statistically tied.
All of a sudden, the Defensor camp became silent about surveys.
From the grapevine, the Defensor camp also commission its own survey, and the results were the same.
It showed a trend: Biron was going up while Toto was going down.
This sent the Defensor camp into panic.
The father ordered new tarps printed; this time the name was “Arthur Toto (in smaller fonts) Defensor, Jr.”
Apparently, the father believes he can salvage the candidacy of his son by bringing back his name into the game.
But it is too late.
The truth that it’s a different Defensor who is running is out in the open.
Worse, Toto has failed to demonstrate an ability to communicate effectively to the people.
In fact, aside from his radio and TV spots, Toto has seldom been heard in public.
What is now happening is that the public perceives an aging father scrambling to force a victory for his son.
Too bad, Defensor could have preserved his son’s political future by agreeing to run as Vice Governor.
His ambition washed him out and will end his long political career in ruin and dishonor.
Instead of leaving a legacy, he will leave public life with heaps of unanswered issues of corruption on his back.

Liar, thief

“A LIAR IS A COUSIN OF A THIEF”
This aphorism couldn’t have found a better example than Governor Arthur D. Defensor, Sr.
But more than a cousin, Defensor is both liar and thief.
That’s because Defensor doesn’t just lie; he also steals and breaks the law and flaunts it.
There are countless examples to prove this.
What’s worse, Defensor has fooled a lot of people into believing that he is a knight in shining armor, a clean and honest public official who pursues “reporma kag pagbag-o” as a platform of government.
Such dishonest and deceitful character of Defensor is demonstrated by the anomalous contracts for what is supposed to be his “legacy” projects at the Iloilo Capitol Grounds.

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Governor Defensor toured Architect Paolo G. Alcazaren around the Capitol Grounds on January 25, 2016. (Photo credit: Erly Garcia/PIO)

It started with the procurement of the contract for a landscape architect.

In 2016, Defensor engaged the services of Architect Paolo G. Alcazaren to prepare the conceptual designs for the landscaping and park development of the capitol grounds.
Their first meeting took place in January 2016. Defensor proudly announced that he was hiring Alcazaren to do the designs.
On December 9, 2016, Alcazaren came back to the capitol to present his drawings and perspectives. Defensor and members of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan were present at his presentation.arch-alcazaren-presents-capitol-masterplan5556943543562139841.jpg
The conceptual design was met with laudatory approval.
Hence, the logical next step was for the procurement of professional services (consultancy) to carry out the master planning, urban design and landscape architecture.
This involve the actual preparation of the detailed design.
Defensor wanted to give the P1.582 million contract to Alcazaren.
But there was a hitch.
As project consultant who did the conceptual designs, Alcazaren was disqualified under RA 9184 and its revised implementing rules and regulations from taking part in the public bidding.
He had a conflict of interest because of his involvement in the conceptual design phase.
This is where the dishonest and deceitful, and even criminal, character of Defensor came in.
(To be continued)

If government wants to stop smuggling, then it should embrace XLOG technology

The country’s Bureau of Customs is leaking like a sieve, which explains why until now, smuggling of illegal drugs hasn’t abated. Shabu that is being sold on the streets of the archipelago are manufactured in China. There are no shabu laboratories in the country anymore. Several shipments worth billions of pesos have been intercepted, but this represents only a fraction of the shabu coming into the country. This leaves me wondering if President Duterte is raising his hands in surrender in the face of this pipeline of shabu flowing right under the noses of our customs bureau. Or put another way, it raises questions on whether the government even wants to stop smuggling of shabu.

This is rather tragic because putting a stop to smuggling could have been accomplished as early as the first quarter of 2018 with software developed by Filipino IT experts. Called “XLOG”, the software has been tested and retested, and consistently proved that the leaks in the system could be plugged permanently. It basically removes human intervention in the entire process, and with it, the opportunities for corruption.

If put to use by our Bureau of Customs, XLOG can eliminate delays in getting cargoes processed and released, and ensure that the government collects the right tariffs. What more can the government ask for? It will make exporters and importers happy, get rid of corruption, and increase collections. It’s a simple formula and it’s hard to understand why Customs officials refuse to embrace the technology.

On top of the crystal clear benefits it will bring to the government, XLOG is not even to cost the Bureau of Customs a single centavo. It is being offered entirely for free. All it needs to do is accept the technology, install the application at all ports of entry, and government will reap the rewards in one smooth movement. The technology has been proven effective in plugging the leaks in the present set-up. Government cannot possibly find a better solution to the smuggling problem and the corruption issue.

Of course, once in place, XLOG will eliminate corruption, which is perhaps the reason why there is resistance in the Bureau of Customs. No matter how many shake-ups will be carried out, the corruption will continue to plague the agency, for as long as officials are given broad discretion on letting a cargo shipment go through its checkpoints. Money, especially when it involves millions of pesos for a single transaction, can dilute the strongest of principles among officials.

Hence, we can only watch with despair as more and more smuggling take place on a daily basis at our ports of entry, both for sea and air cargo. We are losing the war, and government has only itself to blame. If Customs chief Isidro Lapena wants to change the situation, all he needs to do is get XLOG to come into the picture. It’s been waiting there on the sidelines. The picture can change in an instant: smuggling can be eliminated once the buttons for XLOG are pressed.

 

 

David vs. Goliath Part 2

The “David versus Goliath” battle that started four years ago hasn’t ended yet.

The “victory” that Goliath achieved in his own turf at the Senate was hollow. While I was ganged up upon by his ilk in the Liberal Party, I wasn’t pulverized. Yes, I was beaten black and blue, especially with the black propaganda machinery thrown against me. But my integrity was not shattered. It stayed intact.
Now David is coming back into the arena, better armed, and no longer a lonely warrior.
David has got the machinery of the Digong administration behind him.
He is now equipped with a larger arsenal of documents to prove the plunder of Goliath. And he’s got the lawyers of Digong help him and his lawyer with the case.
The link between Drilon and DAP in the ICC project is now established with competent proof.
And David can show the evil scheme that Goliath employed to plunder no less than half a billion pesos — 500,000,000 pesos — from this project.
Goliath thought he could hide the evidence.
But truth has a way of coming to the surface.
And it is the truth that will slay Goliath, like a well-aimed pebble hitting his forehead.
David and Goliath is a story that happened thousands of years ago.
It is being reincarnated in modern Philippine history.

Drilon is a big liar

In all his statements about his share from the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) for his anomalous Iloilo Convention Center project in Iloilo City, Senator Franklin M. Drilon has consistently claimed that he got only P100,000,000 for the project.  On July 8, 2014, Drilon issued a press release entitled, “Drilon releases details of his P100-M DAP funds, invites public to scrutinize his DAP availment,” he said the amount was just P100-million. He said the same thing in a press release much earlier, on October 13, 2013, which is entitled, “DAP creation based on President’s power to realign funds.

But this claim is a big lie. And Drilon knew he was lying. That’s because when he first had to make such claim, the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) had already issued three (3) SAROs, or the Special Allocation Release Order, with a total amount of P300 million that went into the Iloilo Convention Center project. This is confirmed by no less than the DPWH Regional Director, Engr. Wenceslao Leano, in a matrix of fund disbursements for the ICC, a digital copy of which is shown below:

cof

That these funds covered by the SAROs listed in the matrix were part of the DAP in 2012-2013 are confirmed by no less than Secretary Benjamin Diokno in his letter dated July 23, 2018, shown below:

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cof

This proves me assertion four years ago that Drilon had designed an evil scheme to steal public funds by the hundreds of millions of pesos from the ICC. The design of the ICC as specified by the Megaworld’s architect, W. Coscolluela and Associates, had a budgeted cost of only P200 million. During the Blue Ribbon committee investigation on November 13, 2014, Drilon admitted that the design and specifications for the building were part of the donation made by Megaworld. And the terms and conditions of the Deed of Donation spelled out how much the government was required to put up to fund the construction of the convention center. It was P200 million, no more, no less.

Drilon’s insatiable greed became runaway. He tried to get as much money from DAP. He wasn’t contented with P100-million under SARO No. A-12-01294 dated December 12, 2012. He got another chunk of P50-million under SARO No. A-13-00079 dated January 15, 2013. It only whetted his appetite; he got another P150-million on July 5, 2013 under SARO No. A-13-01134. He attempted to get more and spend more. But the heat became unbearable for the DPWH because of my exposes, and the faucet was shut down.

Drilon had announced during the Dinagyang festival in January 2014 that the ICC was going to cost P1-billion. Apparently, he had programmed the DAP releases to ultimately reach P1-billion. This is the reason why when the DAP faucet was shut down, the ICC was not 100% complete, which is the state it is now in. After spending nearly P750-million for the project, Drilon’s ICC lacks a number of components to truly make it world-class.

Now I am asking Drilon to ask the Filipino people for forgiveness. He was caught with his hand in the cookie jar. He tried to grab more than his share of the DAP. He put up deceptive ploys to hide the fact that he got more — much more — than his fellow senators. He should also apologize to his colleagues in the Senate for this deception.

This shouldn’t be unfamiliar territory for Drilon. In June 2005, he goaded and coached then President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo to face the nation and say, “I am sorry”, in the wake of the “Hello, Garci” scandal. Maybe he can rise on a question of personal and collective privilege on Monday and deliver his own “I am sorry” speech for being a liar and a thief.