Thursday, October 29, 2015

Midnight loan deal: To ratify or not to ratify?


FROM REPORTS - There was a Sangguniang Panlalawigan committee meeting yesterday regarding a request from the governor of Marinduque to ratify the loan contract after the "ceremonial signing" that transpired October 20, 2015.

The committee is expected to recommend ratification of the loan agreement in tomorrow's session (Friday, Oct. 30). But the august body just realized that certain documents should have been submitted to the Sanggunian for study before any signing as stipulated in the ordinance granting the governor the authority to negotiate. But they were neither here or there.

Under such a situation that cannot be undone, production of the missing documents before ratification might do it, right? So that must be another one to be rushed double time.

The governor was present in the committee hearing as observer.


"Every street lamp seems to beat
A fatalistic warning
Someone mutters and the street lamp gutters

And soon it will be morning" - Memories


"There's no PDC endorsement of the proposed projects, required to be submitted to SP BEFORE signing of contract", says one.

"Some DBP-approved projects were not included in the documents presented to the SP when the authority to negotiate was done (P15M for Doctors Dorm), or were agreed not to be pursued anymore (P35M Edmundo Reyes Sports Complex), yet still included in the approved projects". says another.

"Many of the approved FMRs appear to overlap with already ongoing projects being implemented by the national goverment. So where will the unused money go? Possibly not to the barangays supposedly identified as would-be recipients. So parang magagamit lang sila at aasa", says another one.

Well, that's what probably happens when you suddenly rush to do things to ensure campaign funds eh?

FORGETTING ELECTIONS 1998

The good people of beloved Marinduque may have forgotten a similar episode in 1998, two years after the Marcopper tailings spillage that instantly polluted Boac River and part of Tablas Strait that runs west of Boac and Mogpog.

Prior to the 1998 elections wasn't there an agreement between Placer Dome and Marelco for an electrification project to cover certain Boac areas in the equivalent amount of USD500,000.00? The Catholic Church and civil society cried 'foul', 'illegal', 'anomalous', since the funds apparently did not go to Marelco, but the cooperative remained quiet all the time. The money just flew elsewhere, everywhere and covered the island.

The electrification project and all the noise that went with it were forgotten after the elections. It was only implemented many years later but with funds apparently sourced from national government agencies concerned.

Then the good people of beloved Marinduque have forgotten that immediately after the elections with winners already declared, in an unprecedented move the Catholic Church headed by the late Bishop of Boac, Rafael Lim together with all prelates, nuns, and lay ministers issued a rare Pastoral Letter. 

The letter signed by all the said prelates, nuns and lay ministers was read to the faithful in all of the parish churches, The missive condemned the conduct of the local elections in Marinduque, one that was characterized, it stated, by the most massive vote buying of all time in Marinduque's history. Well, up to that time. 

The pastoral letter also enjoined all prelates not to officiate, "walang magmimisa", during the inauguration of certain elected officials as their form of protest. This 'vow' however, was broken, maybe not surprisingly, by one of them to the dismay and disappointment of many. 

End of the story. But since then, the conduct of all elections of the future has been sealed? So it seems, unless...


“The only thing faster than the speed of thought is the speed of forgetfulness. Good thing we have other people to help us remember.” -  Vera NazarianThe Perpetual Calendar of Inspiration


Sometimes scholars write about the Marinduque episode finding it important like the following passage from a study:


"Sensing their increasing unpopularity, Marcopper/Placer Dome had 
allocated their resources carefully during the 1998 election. The campaign for governor by the sitting congresswoman, Carmencita Reyes-a scion of the family that in the 1950s was the largest owner of rice lands in the Philippines-was beneficiary of a large company grant for electric power development. Her well-funded campaign was successful. 
The alliance with the mining company, still hopeful of reopening, seemed to consolidate her family's political control." - David Wurfel

Source: David Wurfel, Philippine Studies Vol. 54 No. 1 (2006)


And so today we have this pre-election midnight loan that the good people of Marinduque are suddenly confronted with.

All propositions in the past three years by the governor to secure such a loan contract with any government bank has been blocked, rejected or allowed to die a natural death by the provincial board because of numerous issues. Read

Then another unprecedented rejection followed - the principled rejection  by the people of Marinduque of the proposed settlement agreement between the Marinduque government and Barrick Gold in connection with the environmental class suit filed in Nevada.

A tightly guarded provincial secret, other local government units and civil society groups finally got wind of that secret and loudly protested. They rejected all of the proposed stipulations in the agreement, finding them "unacceptable" and "unconscionable". The glaring deception committed here and there by parties involved, local and foreign, was so monstrous Marinduque was in world news again.

Now, this P300M loan contracted, maybe not so skillfully yet, by Gov. Carmencita O. Reyes with DBP. Reyes and members of the provincial board including the vice-governor were well aware of the Sandiganbayan's suspension order on Reyes in connection with the fertilizer fund scam at the time it was signed.

The unnecessary loan would dramatically increase Marinduque's debt from P35-M (another source puts this at P65-M), or a staggering 857% increase!

Unnecessary because an aggressive national government has allocated billions of pesos for road development projects, particularly provincial road networks with top provincial officials often projecting themselves as very close to Malacanang therefore Marinduque is malakas and top priority.

So let's listen again to today's burning question:


"So where will the unused money go? Possibly not to the barangays supposedly identified as would-be recipients. So parang magagamit lang sila at aasa."

Image from Deviant Art

That makes stubborn members of the provincial board complicit in burying poor, 4th Class Marinduque deeper than six feet below the ground, under an unnecessary and excessive P300 million debt.

Who will the pallbearers in the funeral be? Us, Marinduquenos, carrying the heavy burden of repaying the anomalous, whimsical and exorbitant loan and its accessory interest.

Susong Dalaga Hill

Susong Dalaga Hill
Susong Dalaga Hill from Bagtasan isthmus

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