Archive for the ‘Kabayan’ Category

A Spate of Rural Bank Closures and a Bad Legacy

January 23, 2009

A new wave of pessimism and outrage about rural banks and pre-need plans is engulfing the country including Bicol. This came about after the string of rural banks failed and the Legacy pre-need plans group closed shop without approval from the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). And Legacy is controlled by one Celso de los Angeles.

Who is Celso de los Angeles? Currently, he is the mayor of the small town of Sto. Domingo, Albay. But I heard that when he ran last elections the question was why a non-native would be running for mayor. I also heard the rumor that he needs it for “protection”.

It seems Celso de los Angeles has a checkered past to say the least. In the mid-80s he was barred by the Banko Sentral ng Pilipinas after three banks under his wing collapsed. The BSP cited him for unsound banking practices.

What the guy next did was to buy Legacy Scholarship Pension Plan and Consolidated Plans in the late 80s. Later the two firms were merged.

He next emerged as the chairman of the National Housing and Mortgage Finance Corporation (NHMFC) which is the government’s agency tasked in assisting the so-called housing businessmen. Vice-president Noli de Castro, who was Gloria’s “housing czar”, brought him there.

One will wonder how a banned person could be appointed to such position (It also speaks about Kabayan’s capacity to choose people.) And this is after Chavit Singson tagged one “Celso de los Angeles” as a jueteng operator.

He did not last long in NHMFC because malodorous smell immediately leaked. One of his executives got busted for extortion. The agency was immediately politicized–palakasan became the norm and politicians’ recommendations (and for sure there are no audits involved in this) became important in transactions. Another two officials were later charged in court in connection with a land-titling scam. Housing NGOs strenously complained and protested against his mismanagement of the government agency.

That’s when he metamorphosed into a town mayor. It seems the guy was born in the Year of the Butterfly.

Then 10 apparently disparate and geographically dispersed (in Bicol, Luzon and Visayas) rural banks began to fail one after the other. Those banks were offering “double-your-money schemes” in 5 years. And all were traced to be connected to the Legacy group of Celso de los Angeles, the guy banned by the BSP for unsound banking practices.

Now it appears that Legacy is dipping its hand into the coffers of the banks. A big chunk of the banks chain’s fund seems to have been loaned to Legacy. And now Legacy closed shop. If that is not a scam then what is that?

Now the PDIC (Philippine Deposit Insurance Corporation) buffer fund is threatened with the need to reimburse all these banks’ depositors (to the tune of up to P250,000). These types of rural banks have already learned to split big deposits into P250,000 chunks. So in the end it will be taxpayers who will have to pay for this scam.

At least Bernard Madoff was already arrested and now under custody of the court. And in the US the scammers have almost no way to wiggle out of the judgment of the courts. But here scammers are protected by a wall of lawyers, politician-patrons and TROs (temporary restraining orders).

Yes, the Philippines is a developing country. Developing in the wrong direction.

[Photo credit: Bullit Marquez, AP]

The Shallowness of the US Elections Candidate Pool

October 16, 2008

Looking at the Philippine electoral pool in the 2010 elections some people are less than enamored with some of the presidential and vice-presidential wannabes. Why wannabes? Well, because calling them presidentiables and vice-presidentials might be too much. In the olden days to talk about a politician as presidential or vice-presidential timber is a sign of respect about the caliber and potential of the man.

Among the list of wannabes they would rather not consider are Kabayan Noli for president and Gringo Honasan, Bong Revilla and Jinggoy Estrada for vice-president who all feel have the necessary stuff to fill up such an august office, or so they think. It’s good that someone like Dolphy has enough sense to realize that even if he is capable of being elected as senator he might not be able to bring honor to such an office.

If some think we have reached the pits in our standard for electing national leaders, they better observe what is happening in the US elections. We may be “shallow” and immature as an electorate but the current US electoral pool won’t have the right to sneer at us come 2010 (if ever elections are held at all).

Sarah Palin as vice-president and a potential successor to the presidency? It’s just like saying Bong Revilla, Jinggoy Estrada and Gringo Honasan are all good enough to be vice-president of this country. If the qualifications of Sarah Palin revolves around her being a former town mayor and a governor who has served for just two years then any of the three can claim comparable experience and exposure. The national views of the three might even be superior to Sarah Palin given they have been tackling national issues longer and all are not less smart than the beautiful Sarah. And an advantage to boot is all don’t have a spouse as meddlesome as Todd Palin or Mike Arroyo.

Barack Obama for president? Well, he might be bright, and articulate, a thinker, well-educated and maybe have the right instincts, if i will be charitable to him. But maybe so is Mar Roxas. And Mar Roxas might have been preparing himself for the presidency longer than Obama and he had already a view of the national situation for much longer than Obama. But here in the Philippines Mar Roxas is still considered a bit raw and too young for that office and never mind that he was a former president’s grandson, a illustrous senator’s son and that he has a Judy Araneta-Roxas (the “Mrs. LP”) for a mother.

John McCain for president? He reminds me too much of Ping Lacson’s and Gringo Honasan’s qualifications to be president, both former military men (the Constabulary to which Lacson formerly belonged is considered part of the military for the greater part of his career and he just became a “policeman” later). At least Lacson became a top police general and Gringo is a bemedalled colonel respected (or loathed) by generals depending on their affinity while John McCain retired as a navy captain. Gringo was the Baron of his class at military school while John McCain graduated 894th out of 899 in his military school. And Gringo is a hero to most of his military mates while McCain is just a hero among his beholders.

McCain, Lacson and Honasan all served more than one term as senators of their country but the crucial difference is US senators are selected by state while Philippine senators are elected nationally. If US senatorial elections are used in the Philippines then Luis Villafuerte will be a multi-term senior senator by now.

If this pool of candidates is already good for the US I now wonder what is it that we are all grousing about the quality of our candidates. Maybe we should only start complaining if the Cardinal of Quirino becomes a major party standard-bearer in 2010.