‘Scam’ ang Bitcoin kag iban pa nga crypto-currency


Wala lang nabalahuba sa media pero madamo na nga mga Ilonggo nga biktima sang mga scam gamit ang Bitcoin kag iban pa nga crypto-currency. Madugay na ako nagapa-andam nga maghalong sa mga nagatanyag sang dalagko nga ganansya kon mag-invest sa Bitcoin. Sang Deciembre, gulpi lumagapak ang presyo sang Bitcoin kag madamo ang nasapwan nga hangin na lang ang ila gina-uyatan. Nakabawi ang presyo gamay, apang ang saka-panaog sang presyo sang Bitcoin nagapatimaan gid lamang sang ginatawag nga “volatility”, ukon indi masaligan kag mapaktan, nga giho sang presyo sini.

Sa America kag iban pa nga pungsod, madamo nga mga bilyonaryo ang padayon nga naga-pakamalaot sang Bitcoin kag ila ginatawag nga pangtonto. “Scam” ang tinaga nga pirmi ginagamit. Kag sining nagligad lang nga inadlaw, may isa ka kilala nga negosyante sa Amerika ang brutal nga nag-tawag sa Bitcoin nga alagyan gid lamang sang mga kriminal sa ila malain nga hilikuton.

Harris+1Basahon ninyo…

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Comelec, Marcos asked to comment on shading issue raised by Leni

The Supreme Court, sitting as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal, on Tuesday directed the Commission on Elections and former Senator Bongbong Marcos to file their comments on the motion for reconsideration made by Vice President Leni Robredo on its ruling to nullify votes counted in her favor that fell below the 50% threshold for shading set in 2010.

This directive is part of the due process that the PET needs to observe before it makes a final ruling on the issue.

Leni has complained that her votes were being “systematically decreased” in the manual recount as the revisors found thousands of ballots that were only shaded 25% in the oval across her name. From the tone of her petition to the PET, it would sound as if her survival in the game depended on the tribunal’s agreeing to her position.

There is no way the PET will grant her petition. First, this shady rule about 25% being acceptable for a vote to be credited to her was never announced before the elections. So much television airtime and newspaper space, not to mention the on-the-ground instructional sessions, were used up to educate voters that for a vote to be counted, the oval should be FULLY shaded. But then, the Comelec still issued guidelines in 2010 that in a manual recount, ovals shaded 50% would still be counted. Nothing has come out from Comelec changing that before May 9, 2016.

How come it’s only Leni who is using this line of reasoning? Does it mean that Bongbong Marcos didn’t encounter such kind of shading for votes cast in his favor? If you ask me, this minute resolution adopted by the Comelec in September 2016 — a good four months after the elections — was not even a policy resolution. It merely adopted the memorandum sent by its oversight commissioner to the PET. It doesn’t carry the force of law.

Second, the PET should investigate these ballots with 25% shading. One-fourth of the oval is not shading. It’s a mere blot done hurriedly. This could be another evidence of the massive cheating that took place, an assembly-line act to hurriedly deliver more votes for Robredo as the cheating machinery rushed to catch up with Marcos and eventually overtake him for the fraudulent victory.

Syjuco springs free in fertilizer fund scam case, thanks to Ombudsman

Former TESDA chief and Iloilo 2nd District Cong. Augusto “Boboy” Syjuco must be jumping like a chimpanzee in glee after the Sandiganbayan 1st Division dismissed a graft case against him and several others arising from the fertilizer fund scam in 2004 in which P3.25 million was siphoned to his NGO.

boboy syjuco

Photo credit: Getty Images

This news came out yesterday just a day after I wrote a blog post entitled, “Where is Boboy Syjuco” in which I mentioned he is now undergoing treatment in Singapore, and is forced to seek a permit to travel each he goes there. It was Bombo John Talento who broke the news to me this morning, just as I arrived from an hour-long walk and interviewed me to get my reaction.

Here’s one of the stories that came out:

It’s really a big let-down for me. I had fought Syjuco’s corruption since 2004 when I was still Provincial Administrator, exposing his many anomalies as congressman and then as TESDA Director General. To my recollection I had filed a total of six criminal complaints against him. Four of these cases reached the Sandiganbayan while the other two are pending resolution.

Sadly, what Syjuco’s lawyers have raised — the inordinate delay in the resolution of the cases — is true. It took the Ombudsman 12 long years to indict Syjuco. I agree that this violates his right to speedy justice. What is regrettable is that there is abundant evidence that could have established the guilt of Syjuco. Now all of these were wasted, all because the Ombudsman did not carry out its work right. Even the Sandiganbayan 1st Division expressed its regrets having to dismiss the case.

It pains me even more because the Ombudsman dispatched the Iloilo Convention Center (ICC) case in five (5) months in 2015. It swept aside glaring evidence on the anomalies for the project and declared the respondents led by Senator Franklin Drilon as innocent of wrongdoing. The Ombudsman said I had no evidence to back up my charges.


No to casino in Boracay

ariels point buruanga

Ariel’s Point in Buruanga, Aklan.

I do think that casinos are a good way to attract foreign tourists to the country and generate huge revenues for the government. But putting up a casino-resort on Boracay Island is rather out-of-order. The call of the day is to stop construction activities on the island which is already overcrowded several times over. It’s not a matter of complying with environmental laws, which the proponent Galaxy Entertainment Group Ltd. of Macau has promised. It’s about giving Boracay a breathing spell from the madness of over-development over the last two decades or so.

To push through with this project would undermine the government’s efforts to clean up Boracay and help bring back the sparkle of its natural beauty. Such a massive project will definitely make President Duterte look insincere — a “doble cara” — after he ordered the imposition of drastic measures against violators of environmental laws. The President has drawn wide applause for his decisive actions, and to let Galaxy come in will destroy everything.

There are potential alternate places for the development of this casino-resort. Buruanga is a municipality which overlooks the island with its own potential for beach-related tourism activities. It is situated on the mainland of Aklan province with plentiful of space for resort development. It has its own white-sand beaches and other attractions comparable to Boracay. Guests on the casino-resort can always take a short boat ride to Boracay should they want to. They can gamble at night and enjoy the beach during the day.



Where is Boboy Syjuco?

Two weeks ago, I sat down for coffee with former colleagues in the congressional office of then Iloilo 2nd District Rep. Augusto “Boboy” Syjuco, Jr. It was a reunion of sorts but with one agenda: the corruption cases now pending before the Sandiganbayan against Syjuco. I filed four of these cases (now estimated at 12). The problem is that many other people, including two or three of my former colleagues, were implicated in the cases. They definitely had nothing to do with the crimes. But the paper trail put them in the scene of the crime, so to speak. They were just at the wrong place at the wrong time.

boboy syjuco

Photo credit: Getty Images

The problem was that Syjuco, who served as congressman for nine years (1998-2001, 2001-2004, and then 2010-2013) and Director General of TESDA in 2005-2010, left his former employees to fend for their own. He did not provide them with a lawyer. Syjuco’s corruption also left a trail of misery and legal woes for incumbent 2nd District Rep. Arcadio Gorriceta and Alimodian municipal mayor Geefrey “Kalay” Alonsabe, among others.

Gorriceta was charged before the Sandiganbayan a few months ago along with Syjuco over the P5 million education-for-all project that was implemented through the Pavia LGU in 2004. Gorriceta is being held to account because he approved the disbursement to Syjuco’s NGO, the Tagipusuon Foundation, despite the improper liquidation. Two other former LGU officials were charged in the case.

For his part, Alonsabe was indicted by the Ombudsman’s Field Investigation Office for his participation as municipal councilor in 2004 in ratifying an agreement with Syjuco’s other NGO, Tawo kag Duta Cooperative, for a P5.0 million fertilizer program. The Ombudsman validated my complaint that it was a ghost project. My complaint was only against Syjuco, but the Ombudsman implicated several others, including former employees of “Tito Boboy” and LGU officials.

Syjuco is also facing criminal charges before the Sandiganbayan for the many anomalies at TESDA in which more than a billion pesos are believed to have been plundered. I am just surprised why plunder wasn’t one of the charges filed against him. He should be held in jail without bail.

But where is Syjuco now?

According to newspaper reports, Syjuco was granted a permit to travel abroad last month ostensibly to undergo medical treatment in Singapore. What is his medical condition? Is it really necessary for him to seek treatment abroad? Knowing Syjuco, he will use all kinds of excuses just to avoid trial. His foreign trip caused an arraignment scheduled two weeks ago at the Sandiganbayan to be postponed. His co-accused spent a lot of money only to be told the arraignment would not push through.

Anyway, Syjuco could have left a legacy in the 2nd district of Iloilo. He was super rich when he became congressman, and there was no reason for him to want to steal. But there are things we can’t understand in some people. This guy’s greed was beyond comprehension. I was his chief of staff in 1998. When I saw corruption setting in, I left in 2001.

This is one guy who deserves to rot in jail for his sins against the Filipino people.

Can we lick smuggling?

I caught a few minutes of the TV livestreaming of the on-going Senate Blue Ribbon Committee investigation into the P6.4 billion shabu smuggling case that was uncovered last year. Blue Ribbon chairman Senator Dick Gordon was giving a lecture on how Japan rose to become a superpower. He said this was just to illustrate how Japan, with a culture heavily steeped in honor, managed to harness resources to build a strong economy. One reason is that Japan has virtually no smuggling. There’s no reason why the Philippines can’t lick smuggling as well.


Photo credit: Philippine Daily Inquirer

But the corruption at the Bureau of Customs is deeply entrenched, and nothing has worked so far to eliminate the old practices like the “tara” system that breeds the corruption at the agency. Everybody, from top-level management down to the janitor and messenger, is on the take. Just look at the lifestyle of BOC employees! Ordinary clerks drive SUVs.

The problem is that corruption at BOC doesn’t just deprive Filipinos of resources that could contribute to improving the lives of the poor. This endemic problem is what makes it possible for Chinese smugglers to bring in tons and tons of shabu into the country. The P6.4 billion smuggle case is just one of many. And even now, shabu supply remains abundant, a solid testimony to the inability of our government to plug the leaks at BOC.

If President Duterte fails to stop smuggling of shabu, then his war against illegal drugs will become a big, sick joke. With the thousands of casualties in this drug war, President Duterte should realize that killing several thousands more will not end the problem. With poverty still unchecked, there will always be poor Filipinos who will gamble their lives selling shabu and feed their families.
This is the challenge confronting the President.

Boracay: let it take a break

As far back as 1985, overcrowding in Boracay Island was already an issue. Asiaweek sent me there to look into complaints about the paradise island being spoiled as a result of the rapid development of resorts. It was my first time to visit Boracay, and going there was really an adventure. The roads from Iloilo to Caticlan were bad; it must have taken me 6 hours to travel there by a non-aircon bus.

I can still remember the first time the pumpboat I took to cross over to the island from Caticlan. Around a kilometer from shore, I was already amazed by the crystal-clear waters. The corals were visible and looked as if the bottom was just a meter deep. The boatman told me the depth of the waters was more like 10 meters. And the white sand on beach appeared like baby powder.

Upon disembarkation, I exclaimed to myself: This is really paradise. And I wasn’t surprised that the people there wanted to stop the development of more resorts. There were only a dozen or so small resorts, consisting of nipa-roofed cottages in a compound numbering around 8 or 10. If I remember correctly, there were less than 200 such cottages on the island in 1985. The island had no electricity; at night, each cottage only had a gas lamp for illumination. I spent 3 days on the island talking with local residents and resort owners. They wanted to preserve the beauty of the island.

At the time, the biggest resort was Friday’s (I don’t if it’s still there).

Boracay beach front June 2017

The author enjoying his favorite brew at the Boracay beach in June 2017.

No roads. No motorized transportation. If you wanted to explore the island, you had to walk. At night, strolling down the beach was a favorite activity, with only the moon and the stars providing illumination. The crowds wouldn’t qualify as a crowd in the modern sense of Boracay. During the 3 days I was there, I estimated the number of tourists at around 300. Definitely not in the thousands which is now what we see on Boracay.

Boracay in 1985 was still paradise compared to what it has become now. The people who complained about overcongestion didn’t know things would only worsen in the years and decades to come. I was just lucky to have visited Boracay when its pristine condition was still almost intact. Over the years, each time I went to Boracay, I saw the recklessness, and total lack of concern, in its development. Everybody just wanted the money. The environment was sacrificed.

President Duterte was correct when he described Boracay as a cesspool. It became a victim of its own success. It’s time to stop this crazy rush to build more resorts. Let Boracay take a break.