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Daily Archives: June 13, 2019

A short-lived election victory

“In school, you’re taught a lesson and then given a test. In life, you’re given a test that teaches you a lesson.”

–Tom Bodett

By Alex P. Vidal60336807_10214018136070347_8150589498095304704_n

WHEN come-backing Janiuay, Iloilo mayor Frankie Locsin decided to run again in the recent May elections, he probably had no idea his appeal in his February 2015 Sandiganbayan conviction for graft would be denied by the Supreme Court.
Thus he suffered hypertension when National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) agents arrested him on June 3, 2019 and was rushed to the Western Visayas Medical Center (WVMC) in Mandurriao district in Iloilo City.
No one from among Locsin’s family and political team had expected the arrest to happen three weeks after he won back the mayoral post in the midterm elections.
Locsin, who had been semi-retired from politics, probably was prompted to run again when he had an inkling the Supreme Court wouldn’t give him a favorable verdict; or, he must’ve thought it was the best “remedy” for the time being.
Sadly, even his becoming mayor again didn’t save him from the higher court’s guillotine.

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In a graft case that stemmed from medicine purchases of the local government of Janiuay using P15 million from Sen. Vicente Sotto’s Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) way back in 2001, Locsin and five others were found guilty beyond reasonable doubt of violating Section 3(e) of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act or Republic.
A supplier whose accreditation had been suspended by the Department of Health (DOH) and wasn’t supposed to be qualified in the bidding, cornered the multi-million medical supply contract.
The Sandiganbayan First Division also convicted Locsin’s co-accused Accountant Carlos Moreno Jr., Budget Officer Ramon Tirador, Treasurer Luzviminda Figueroa, Ricardo Minurtio, and businessman Rodrigo Villanueva.
They were sentenced to a jail term of from six to 10 years and perpetual disqualification from public office.
The Sandiganbayan had ordered arresting officers to bring Locsin to the anti-graft court based in Quezon City “as soon as possible, to be dealt with as the law and Rules of Court direct.”

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There were three participants – AM Europharma Corp., Mallix Drug Center and Philpharmawealth Corp.–when a bidding was held on January 15, 2001.
Philpharmawealth, however, denied participating in such a bidding.
The Office of the Ombudsman, which investigated the transaction, noticed the apparent haste in the process when the P1.7-million purchase contract was awarded to Mallix Drug Center.
AM Europharma was awarded with a P13.1-million contract approved by Locsin. The medicines were immediately delivered the next day, Jan. 16, 2001.
Supply Officer II Gabriel Billena inspected the purchases which were fully paid on January 17, 2001.
The Ombudsman raised the red flag on the deal’s propriety after fing out that the heads of the AM Europharma Corp. and Mallix Drug Center were one and the same – Rod D. Villanueva.
Ombudsman noted that Villanueva was the sole proprietor of Mallix Drug Center and also the general manager and president of AM-Europharma.
“The Court finds…conspiracy between accused public officials (and) members of the municipal Committee on Awards of Janiuay…as shown by their respective signatures in the Minutes of Meetings which awarded the subject procurement of medicines in favor of AM Europharma and Mallix Drug which gave undue advantage to accused Rodrigo Villanueva, owner and proprietor of said companies,” part of the anti-graft court’s decision read.
The 34-page Sandiganbayan decision dated Feb. 23, 2015 was penned by Associate Justice Rodolfo Ponferrada and concurred by First Division Chairman Efren dela Cruz and Associate Justice Rafael Lagos.
The Sandiganbayan stated that “there was unanimity of purpose and intent on the part of said accused officials to consummate the said procurement in favor of accused Rodrigo Villanueva as shown by the undue haste that attended the delivery of the medicines and the speed with which the payments for the said medicines were made…and even without the latter or his companies posting the required 10 percent performance bond, knowing fully well that there was a failed bidding because of AM Europharma’s DOH suspended supplier’s accreditation, that the government was not able to secure the lowest possible price for the said bidders…”
(The author, who is now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two local dailies in Iloilo)

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Posted by on June 13, 2019 in Uncategorized

 

Ilonggos don’t love the underdogs?

“I like being the underdog so they don’t expect what’s going to happen. It pushes me to work harder and do the things I’m not doing better.”

–Kawhi Leonard

By Alex P. Vidal60336807_10214018136070347_8150589498095304704_n

NEW YORK CITY — THERE are probably more Ilonggos living in Oakland, California than in Toronto, Ontario, thus the Golden State Warriors apparently have more fans among the Ilonggo populace in both the United States and Canada compared to the Toronto Raptors.
We are supposed to be “lovers of the underdogs”, but we’ve noticed the Ilonggos are more agog over the Warriors, the defending champions, even if the Western Conference kings have already won the NBA Finals for several times in a row and the Raptors, the Eastern Conference heroes, are chasing history and currently the darling of the basketball world.
Even in the social media, the Warriors are very much hailed and cheered especially when they averted annihilation in Game 5 on June 10 with a nerve-tingling 106-105 win.
Many Filipinos fans rooting for both teams from the US and Canada are workers in the health industry–nurses, caregivers, doctors, physical therapists–or Filipino-Americans and Filipino-Canadians who have been following the NBA games with passion and style for several years now. How exciting to read their debates and fierce discussions in the social media and in other communication platforms.
Basketball old-timers in Western Visayas, as a whole, also appear to be Warriors fans, including some politicians, local sports analysts, ordinary folks, and anchormen in leading radio stations chronicling the exciting best-of-seven finals.
May the best team win in Game 6 or Game 7, if necessary.

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The original “Ilonggo Bikoy” was reportedly spotted again in Iloilo City weeks after his politician boss lost in the mayoral elections in Metro Manila.
The “Ilonggo Bikoy” is a well-connected mystery man. He has spilled the beans on so many high-profile personalities involved in illegal drugs.
Many of these high-profile personalities linked by this original “Ilonggo Bikoy” in illegal drugs are now either have been buried six feet below the ground, or have left Western Visayas and are now hiding in Metro Manila and Mindanao.
He is a friend of a balikbayan who recently lost in a local election in Iloilo City.
He is an admirer of former Iloilo provincial administrator Manuel “Boy” Mejorada, who recently hogged headlines after being arrested for cyberlibel filed by Iloilo Governor Arthur “Art” Defensor Sr.
The “Ilonggo Bikoy” is being suspected as one of those who spread the canard that former Iloilo City mayor Jed Patrick Mabilog was involved in illegal drugs.
Former Western Visayas narcotics chief Genodepa of Guimbal, Iloilo knows this “Ilonggo Bikoy” very well.
I know him, too–also very well.

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According to Dr. Deepak Chopra, one of the causes of Ernest Hemingway’s “deepest depression” was due to “Writer’s Block” which could happen to any writer.
When asked to write a speech for the inaugural of President JFK, Hemingway, America’s all-time best Nobel Prize in Literature winner, suffered a “Writer’s Block” and could not start a sentence.
Several days later, he shot himself to death with a shotgun!

(The author, who is now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two local dailies in Iloilo)
 
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Posted by on June 13, 2019 in Uncategorized