Is Distributing Cash at the Presidential Palace Improper? Immoral? Insensitive? Idiotic? Infuriating?

I know this is a food blog for the most part. With less than 1% of all posts being service rants, usually about various outrageous service situations I have personally encountered. As far as I can remember, I have only posted 2 or 3 entries on the state of the Philippine economy or politics in general so less that 1/10% of 1% of posts stray into this area. But the scandal du jour or several jours is just so totally outrageous and irritates me more than a teacher with long nails scraping them down a pristine green blackboard, that I couldn’t resist writing my personal opinion on the matter. The apparent distribution of cash in paper bags to congressmen and local government officials who were called to Malacanang Palace last week is what I am referring to. Some folks apparently received PHP500,000 and others reportedly PHP200,000 in cash. Press estimates place potential total distribution at above PHP100 Million. Several recipients have already admitted receiving the cash, others have denied it. But the situation raises several questions… What was the cash for? Who was it from? Did it come with strings attached? Why were there no receipts or documentation? Why is nobody saying who gave the cash? Which budget did it come from? And if Malacanang had nothing to do with it, are innocent citizens to believe that gate security at the Palace is so relaxed they didn’t question the suitcase(s) or more worth of bundled bills that somehow found their way into the Palace grounds that morning? Complete with 200 gift bags? HOW DUMB DO THEY REALLY THINK THE PUBLIC IS? This is an outrage! An outrage! And most Filipinos are just so caught up with their own problems and so blase about corruption that the brewing controversy has not yet ignited a sufficiently heated demand for accountability and transparency. On the heels of the Hello Garci controversy, ZTE and now cash in paper bags, at what point do we collectively say, TAMA NA! NO MATTER WHAT THE FINAL EXPLANATION, I do not think you can in ANY WAY justify the distribution of cash at a political gathering in this manner. NO WAY. I am so utterly disgusted. Disgusted. Disgusted. And I am ashamed that we don’t do more about it.


103 Responses

  1. ALL OF THE ABOVE!!! Sheez Marketman, we Pinoys ought to raise furor over this just like we did with those other “controversies” we rose up in arms over! We have to pick our battles, and the pick the right ones!

  2. No doubt in my mind Arroyo is behind all of this. She is buying her peace – a pacifier to local government officials and congressmen. The compass is pointing towards her direction regarding the ZTE scandal that De Venicia III spilled. I am not surprised if the first family are looking for a hit man to eliminate the young De Venicia. Where the source of money from? It could be from foreign aid – Japan, US or European countries. Definitely not coming out of her pockets. The two sons and husband are the gatekeeper in getting any major government contract work. Like any project, if you want to win the bid for a particular project you have to give them money or certain percentage of the contract price. That’s how the contract price gets inflated! With PH100 Million they can provide health care program to all our sick countrymen – like providing low cost dialysis treatment, tuberculosis medications and treatment, cancer treatment. It is heartbreaking how many of our fellow citizens died without any medical interventions administered to them. It is really depressing on the part of family members seeing their loved ones dying or suffering from curable ailments but no money to fund their medical treatment. Or have a cataract removal program to low income family. Or they could use the money to provide social services to needy people who missed their meals for most part of the day. Or upgrade our public school programs including the classrooms, teacher’s salary, textbooks, etc. My heart goes out to all my countrymen who are suffering from extreme poverty and unbearable living conditions.

  3. In the final analysis the root of all these is our unique and very flawed presidential system. Its time for change of the system and not just the personalities.

  4. Hi Lori, yup it is a food blog with ocassional rants. But last time I checked, it doesn’t mean I can’t write what I think on any matter I choose to. And at dinner with friends, I don’t only talk about food…so outrageous “cash in paper bags behavior” is fair game, in my personal opinion. If it isn’t a topic that is of interest to readers, they can simply skip the post… After all, for those who recall, I have a favorite t-shirt that reads: “Choose Frustration Over Indifference.”

  5. dear market man, i like this blog coz your topics are a matter of fact they are classy. sometimes i think that you and the people who clicks here… ang laki ng mga problema nila(there problems are so big) like fondant cake,travels and other ivy league stuff. which i find great and maybe you can forget about those lowly politicians.they are not in your league. am sure as well as your readers . by the way there is a convention of organic agriculturalist here in our hotel in iloilo. it starts today up to friday.

  6. better said than done…
    its the whole system that is going on that is really wrong…
    and we all just sit and enjoy the show!
    we have a constitution that is supposed to protect the interest of the general public but it is just too vague for politics to take advantage against the public…
    the problem w/ Philippine politics, they are all scambags…its just so happen the present one is so good w/ her network unlike her predecessors who were so obviously greedy!

  7. All crooked-to-the-bone politicians should be loaded in a boat, send them in the middle of shark infested ocean and blow-up the boat.
    The ship will be good for new coral growth and the shredded meat will be good for the sharks.
    This is the Philippines’ share for a greener planet. This has been my dream for a long long time. Unfortunately, it is just but a DREAM.
    MM, this is your blog…write whatever tickles your bone.

  8. i do enjoy your occasional rants about this and that, and you’re right, we don’t only talk about food at meal time. so, for me, i picture myself enjoying wonderful paksiw na lechon (previous blog) with friends while discussing the cash-in-paper-bags fiasco, among other things.

  9. I hope i can say the same things like just because you write about food in general or that this is a food blog then you have to stick to it. But if your heart is already full of disgust over these outright and walang ng delicadeza actions then so be it! I, too, am constantly reflecting on how come these politicians can keep money seemingly flowing amongst them while I see around me the lack of it. I am often told that ours is a poor country that is why illegal logging is rampant (like here) but I keep countering, of course not! It all boils down to lack of the sense of responsibility to Man and Nature. There is still so much Beauty and Bounty about but then Balance is nudging to be let out. So, we cannot but listen to our hearts…there is really something wrong to be constantly righted.

  10. Yes, picking our battles is utterly correct. Inasmuch as I was offended by that Desperate Housewives racial slur, I think that if our fellow Filipinos could exert much effort in asking a public apology from the offenders (and eventually suing the network), why not use that effort and energy instead to actually change our freaking system??

    What should we do about this? I’m sure am a lot of our countrymen would want to change this disgusting system but do not know what to do..

  11. But isn’t it always FOOD FOR THOUGHT to ask why problems facing the Filipino people have reached their present-day proportions? :)

    Besides, food is never served alone: it’s presented along with garnishings and conversations, in its social and economic settings.

    It absolutely appalls me how DENR Sec. Lito Atienza tries to downplay the entire issue by casually claiming that such “overflowing” (his words!) discretionary cash gifts from the Palace are “normal”. Since when was influence-peddling and attempted bribery ever “normal”? Is it “normal” to have discretionary largesse in the hands of a few people, when many government agencies and public service facilities (such as schools and barangay clinics!) sorely lack funds for their constituents?

  12. I like that you are a concerned citizen. We do all we can to spread the word that things are not right in our society. I face that same dilemma when I post in my recovery blog. Even if the issue is off-topic, I choose to blog about important events that affect us. This gift giving scandal is immoral. You have hundreds of readers. You are doing your share in this blog.

  13. And yes, this is a food blog, but it is still Marketman’s blog, so he could write about whatever his heart desires (or in this case, rants)..

    And we cannot stay cold about our surroundings, because even if I am very passionate about food myself, it is actually starting to haunt me with the thought that there are Filipinos who could not even have a decent meal.. And then you learn of paper bags with loads of cash??

    And besides, food is related with a lot of things, it is embedded in our society, we just love to eat. You could read about Jose Rizal and realize how he romantically expressed his (and other Filipinos in his time) cravings for sinigang when they were living in Europe.

    So yeah, before I lose my point, I also enjoy your occasional rants; they make sense..

  14. I for one appreciate the occasional foray outside of the food box in this blog. Living outside of the country, it’s easy to become insensitive to what is happening there…yet I too feel the outrage and disgust upon reading this. MM reaches so many readers in and out of the country, perhaps in some way his rant will jolt our collective conscience and make us join in the protest.

    To me this is what makes your blog interesting MM.More power to you.

  15. Freedom of expression is always welcome in this erratic democratic country with full of ragged politicians. Go MM, applause to you!!!

  16. Great point Blaise! while i too think that the racial slur in DH was improper, i feel that the current controversy of ZTE and the cash bags should be the focus of the Filipino’s rant. I think it was only when the Filipinos in the medical field got ridiculed in a highly popular show that we chose to raise a big fuss because we felt our egos were bruised. how about this shockingly scandalous behavior of our so called “Honorables”? Their conduct is anything but, and i totally agree that this is definitely not one of those times to be indifferent!

  17. We need Cardinal Sin. His successors have been wimps. Where is the great man who will fill his shoes? I feel if the Cardinal were still alive, GMA would have been gone two years ago.

  18. all of the above, MM and add criminal to all that..what else would you call such action, di ba? i work near the palace where the “moneybags” were distributed, kaya nga there’s a running joke in our office “bakit mas generous pa sila dun sa iba samantalang kaming mga kapitbahay hindi man lang maabutan?” (joke lang naman yun). it’s really appalling that they can distribute millions of pesos to their so-called allies but they cannot even allocate a single peso for more important projects that will directly benefit the poor. this may be a food blog but we’re also (well, most of us anyway) citizens of this country that’s now being run by such immoral leaders and as such we can always air our disgust about the kind of governance these leaders practice.

  19. Yes! I agree with you, I hate it that we are not doing something about all these series of scandals.
    It is OUTRAGEOUS! Akala yata nila napakatanga ng mga tao. And the nerve of Atienza to even say it’s just normal for Malacanang to give cash gifts. HELLO! PHP500M is PHP500M. Sana lang they could explain to us where the money came from and why there is discretionary distribution of big amounts. Or yet, bakit kaya hindi sa depressed areas sila magpaulan ng pera, baka sobra sobra ang pera sa MALACANANG wala ng mapaglagyan. NAKAKAHIYA!

  20. Everything is intimately related, be it food, weather, or t-shirts! I agree MM, SOBRA NA! Can’t we do anything? Anything?!

  21. First time I heard about this.

    Blink… blink… Must breathe… in total shock…

    Did this really happen? When???

  22. This is SOOOO SOOOOO shocking!

    I agree we need change…a lot of change. The question that comes to mind is are the Filipinos ready to change for change to happen?

    Are we ready to accept responsibility for the way things are now (we voted them in; and if the politicians stole the seats they needed people who would assist them to steal)

    Are we ready to accept the necessary personal hardship or risk to report anomalies when we witness it?

    Are we willing to cease “grease” practices (like bribing police officers when we commit traffic offences) and truly obey the law? Are we willing to accept penalities/punishment when we break the law?

    There are more things we have to be willing to do & accept…I don’t think I can name them all. The bottom line, we will need to make firm personal change in our attitude, our way of living life to make a better country for ourselves and our children. Are we TRULY willing? If we are not, then things will just stay the way they are…

  23. People like you marketman are lucky because you can always go back to the States and be a part of a civilized and organized society again. Whereas, majority of Filipinos are stuck in this murky and stinking cesspool with no where to go.

  24. You are right that Filipinos are so caught up in their own problems that they don’t seem to care anymore. I am one of those people. When I saw this on the news, all I could think was how I wish 500K was handed to me to help pay for my family’s medical bills… Then I switched off the TV and put my energy into taking care of my husband. To all of you who have the energy and passion to be indignant, I salute you. Maybe when my own life isn’t so tough, I will be able to muster up the same outrage.

  25. bob, I chose to stay in the Philippines and keep business interests and the vast majority of our investments here. I never took U.S. residency nor citizenship nor have I ever applied for it or in any other country. I have ALWAYS carried a Philippine passport as does Mrs. MM and The Kid. Though I will admit that sometimes when we have to line up for hours and get visas to nearly every country we visit, I wished I had a different passport. I suppose I could attempt to move at some point, but I feel as helpless as many Filipinos you mention who appear to be stuck in this “cesspool” as you describe it. Myra P., yes, I do feel the lethargy and frankly, I understand it, but I still get all up in arms when these things happen. Bluegirl, you raise many good points. sometime lurker, you have to catch up on or other local news websites. From most of the comments here, I obviously am not the only one a bit hot and bothered about this.

  26. From the view of the outsider, it is the sheer nakedly brazen, don’t give a **** attitude of those involved in both handing out and receiving of gifts, loyalty payments, bungs, call them what you will that is so jaw dropping astonishing. It happens everywhere else I know (but is often more discreet and less rampant) but here it just seems so pernicious and pervasive.

    From top to bottom in the system there always seems to be someone who wants to be paid that little bit extra for things to be done. Sadly kind of understandable for those in employ on desperately low wages – especially when they see their peers doing similar. But higher up the food chain….? When did notions of Civic duty, pride and dignity get abandoned and replaced by greed and personal aggrandisement?

    Some very brave and honest people have to appear on the political stage and say Enough! The difficulty then is actually believing that they will remain true and honest themselves.

  27. bob, some of us do have choices, and call it romanticism or outright idiocy, but i love this cesspool, no matter how “murky and stinking” as you describe; so MarketMan, is there a petition somewhere? I wanna sign this one!

  28. As far as i am concerned, you can write what you want to write about and I will read what I want to read. This is still a free country…I am glad that some of us (even Filipinos like you who “can always go back to the States and be a part of a civilized and organized society again”)get to say and rant and be bold about the wrong things that are happening around us. Freedom of expression is exactly what this is…that means, I salute you MM for speaking out, it’s a rant afterall.

  29. Hay naku…people who defend this ‘cash gifts’ must have gotten a bigger share or may have commissions lined up in future government projects…it’s really frustrating and even infuriating how the government makes a fool out of its own countrymen. This is probably the idea of the former speaker who’s known to have the habit of doing this to his colleagues(i just don’t like him nor trust him :\ ) So kapal, so corrupt and so so disgusting!!!

  30. I totally agree with you MarketMan!!!

    Maybe you could also write something about our environment — recycling…etc…the moview An Inconvenient Truth perhaps…

  31. I dont care if this is a food blog and there is an occasional rant or other topic published over some other things (like MM’s family, or be it about pottery, good finds etcetera). After all, this is MM’s blog, he is paying for it, not a single cent comes from his readers or from any sponsors. He can write anything as long as it is based on truth and I won’t mind. This is a good channel for people like me who never reads news from the Philippines (I am now based abroad and I dont have much time interest reading news over there because I just become more frustrated with what’s going on in our home country).

    So, what’s wrong if he airs this frustration over here and not on a political rant blog? I wouldnt have known about this cash give-away brou-ha-ha if not for this blog. And I thank MM for that. After all, I dont come here for just the food alone. I come here for information, friendship, and other things. As far as I know, he has written about non-food articles on this blog like shopping, shoes, credit card rants, newspaper articles etc and no one called his attention for it that those were non-food related stuff. So what’s the problem if he writes an expose’ about this recent malicious activities going on in Malacanang?

    I think that Lori’s comment is inappropriate. If she chooses to limit her blog to foods, no one stops her or calls her attention for it. That doesnt give her authority to reprimand anybody what they write on their blog. Let MM decide what he wants for his blog and us readers to decide whether we will support it or not.

  32. Your blog, your choice of subject.

    Yes, utterly disgusting. But not really surprising, I think many of us suspected all along that these things took place, which perhaps accounts for what seems like lethargy. Although I’m not saying inaction is right.

    We’ve had so many scandals already. I wonder what it will take to really upset people and bring them out into the streets?

  33. THANK YOU, MM, for discussing this. Although MarketManila is primarily a food blog, for me, part of its appeal is that you will, once in a while (and staying within the 1% is good) stray off-topic and shake things up a bit. Besides, the state of Phil. politics has gotten so vile that I don’t care if ALL BLOGS AND WEBSITES rant about it, just so that more and more people FINALLY face the fact that these disgusting practices (cheating, stealing, bribing) will continue for as long as the people continue to ignore them! It’s not going away because you’re not interested, people; in fact, it’s only going to get worse.

    As disgusting as the Hello Garci, ZTE, and money-in-bags scandals are, I find it much more outrageous that most Filipinos just don’t seem to care. Blaise is right, more people know and are angry about the Desperate Housewives “issue,” and they actually did something about it. Imagine, they actually had a rally against ABC, but refuse to protest the ZTE scandal?! They sent out countless e-mails and signed petitions against Desperate Housewives’ racist comment, but do they even know the huge insult our own politicians do to us? It’s really terrible how apathetic we’ve have become. I do believe that most Filipinos no longer TRULY care about what happens here. They’re just waiting for an opportunity to leave. :-(

  34. The government never fails to disappoint us. Many politicians are crap and corrupt but I still have faith in some like Father Panlilio. What I am most disappointed at is our president. I used to think highly of her, now after the dirty elections and now this, she has no morals, no conscience, using my taxes, (supposedly my contribution to my country and supposedly money that can fulfill my dreams of not having jobless citizens anymore) as bribe to more than willing legislators and leaders. 500,000 is what she gives away in the whiff of a hand, and it pains me to know I need to work 2 years to get that excluding taxes that I have to pay. She’s so full of b.s.

    Can someone pass a law that would execute anyone who’s caught misusing goverment funds? The laws are hard on rapists, drug pushers, murderers, I don’t see why this can be any different than any other crime.

    I nearly forgot, they’re the ones who make the law. What can a 20-year old non-politician like me do? Rally the streets, get arrested? Perhaps make a petition that will only be rendered useless? It’s allllll sooooo hoooooopelesssssssss……

  35. Hayyy, what can we do? I feel hopeless, too. See, I joined edsa 2 to bring down Erap and now I feel frustrated that a change in leadership(READ: Noli de castro) will not be any better. Anong dapat natin gawin? How can we “be the change we want to see”?

  36. What a mixed up sense of priorities we have when a fictional tv slur can rouse us to petition and rally, but having our national budget ravished by the government turns us apathetic. Is it because we feel the former is something that can be fixed (by an apology from the media giant), but the latter is not?

    I’m with those who have made the choice to stay here. Hopefully there’s more positive coming out of my sticking around, than working and benefiting another nation. But it’s a hard choice for many to make so there’s no reason to point fingers at one another.

    Don’t you also write about flowers, travel, and shoes MM? So, you already breached the boundaries of a food blog. Keep on breaching.

  37. Ako din ay bumalik sa Pilipinas kasi mukhang hindi ko kayang maging citizen ng ibang bansa even though medyo mahirap ang kabuhayan dito. Even though a passport “is only a piece of document”.

    Many times when we criticize public officials we forget that we had voted them into office. Masasabi ba natin na hindi natin sila kilala nang mabuti at hindi natin akalain na gagawa sila nang ganito kapag sila ay nasa posisyon na?

    The democratic process has checks and balances, primarily in the form of regular elections. People prove themselves to be hooligans, we don’t vote for them again. Why is it that certain families monopolize high positions? Papaano, binoboto sila ng mga tao.

    Ang mga taong ito ay nasa posisyon ngayon kasi ibinoto natin sila. In these instances, tayo ang kumuha ng mga batong pinagpukpok natin sa ating ulo.

    In the Oct 3 issue of The Economist, there is an article, “Credibility deficit – How the Philippines shoots itself in the foot”. I think it is an honest assessment of how other countries perceive us. Sana ay hwag burahin ni MM ang link,

  38. How good of you to spread the news about these disgusting and immoral acts through your blog (I read about them in the Philippine Daily Inquirer). This way more Filipinos abroad will find out about it, and perhaps there may be leaders out there who would do something about it. How shameless those politicians are!

    Somehow there must be a way to elect “less dishonest” politicians. Perhaps our churches and priets may have to be involved again (example: Governor Panlilio of Pampanga). To your readers – any suggestions out there? What can we do to stop thess illegal and immoral acts?

    You know MM, perhaps come another election time, through your blog or someone else’s, we (i.e., you and your readers) could contribute financially in the election of an honest man. Of course, finding such a man may prove to be a fruitless exercise. It is most likely that just like Demosthenes with his lamp, searching for an honest man would lead to nowhere and nobody. There are so many homeless and starving people in the Philippines. Reading about hungry children sleeping under the bridges of Quiapo, etc. while our leaders openly bribe each other with cash fills me with great sadness and sorrow. Poor, poor Philippines. What is happening to you!

    More power to you, MM. Bring on more rants!

  39. ntgerald, thank you for the link! Mila, I think I was born to breach, if you know what I mean, and I know you do :) mojacko and belle, I suspect voting for better public officials and keeping vigilant are always good things to do. Katrina, I am amazed with the intensity of emotion re the tv show vs. this blatant moneybags for 200 people thingee… note, I didn’t write about DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES for goodness sakes…heehee. I am glad that many folks find this topic timely and interesting, I certainly do.

  40. that kind of money could feed all the undernourished kids in schools for years. what annoys me is the over-all apathy, just shrug your shoulders as the situation will not change at all.

    We should all boycott the politicians businesses. Why can’t anybody publish the companies where these politicians are affiliated?

  41. Myra P. That is true. And I understand perfectly.
    Katrina, there are many Filipinos that couldn’t wait to go abroad or whose lives’ ambitions seem to be simply to go out and earn lots and not be bothered by the goings on here anymore. But no, not most Filipinos. I don’t think so.
    I share everybody’s frustration. But each one can do something even if it does not directly concern the ZTE deal. Afterall, such issues are sometimes manifestations of other, if not, bigger concerns. While others try to directly resolve these specific problems, others can still do their share to help ensure a better future for our nation and our children in order to avoid similar problems in the future. Like if all the Myras (myself included) would continue to do just that, take care of their families and ENSURE to nurture the children–the next generation–in a manner that every Filipino can be proud of; that they will eventually become truly productive citizens of THIS country and not another’s….
    I try my best to do this with my son. I am older now and not as robust as in my youthful days when I would join rallies. By the way, I, too, salute those who continue to be active in this respect. In the meantime, I take care that my son understands what it means to be a Filipino; take care of the environment the best way I, even as an individual, can; and whenever I am given the opportunity to work, I try to instill the same values to the people I work with apart from sharing my technical expertise. This way, I do not feel so helpless and so hopeless. And I “fight” not just because some people are doing wrong and doing a lot of disservice to our country and our people but also because I believe in the Filipino and what our country stands for. Ours is a good country and a good people. It’s just that in recent decades, some people and some events have somewhat tarnished the gem that we really are. I suppose, it’s just time to take the grime away.

    P.S. MM, you hardly discuss what you do exactly (and I don’t mean your livelihood and hobbies) though I think you mentioned one time that you at least provide advice (?)or whatever it is in the area of economics, etc. by way of doing your bit to make the Philippines a little better. For my part, I have no money nor am I in a position of great influence but God gave me skills and a passion for people. I suppose I really did something right because LGUs and the people in critical areas in Mindanao seek me out still. And one municipality in particular is on its way to fully resolving their peace and development issues and problems–perhaps, a long way yet but getting there. Thus far, the people there have begun to inspire neighbouring areas. This seems too far from the ZTE deal, but really, if the good that is bourne of such efforts spill over… like ripples in the water… well, wouldn’t it be something to look forward to? I mention this in the hope that others may be inspired from the people’s struggle to make things better. By all means, let’s get angry…but in a positive way. And let’s not lose faith. Cheers!

  42. dear mr. mm, you know i love reading this blog but sometimes i feel a bit guilty because being in a country like ours, “indulging” in a blog like this can feel a bit like i’m being “escapist”, hehe. so thanks for bringing this up. as for the bribes, i’m frustrated that we can no longer, as a people, summon indignation over such blatant crimes. i really don’t know why. but i’m very much inclined to agree with what conrado de quiros said in his column yesterday. that unlike before where we were faced with obvious good vs. evil , now we only have evil vs. lesser evil options.

  43. Marketman, I agree on voting better people to post, and keeping vigilant. But how about election manipulation.. Things are just linked one after another. I’ll say this again, I am not enthusiastic about Gloria and her cohorts, she is numb, as in NUMB TO CORRUPTION.

  44. A long but thoughtful lecture on corruption and what we as individuals (in this age of Wikipedia and Google) can do about it. Socrates’s dictum about indifference, the condition that allow evil to flourish is for good men do nothing still holds. In this case, even a seemingly helpless cry of indignation against instances of corruption aids in slowing down our tolerance for it.

  45. MM, thank you for saying exactly the things i wanted to say. AAAARRRGGGHHHH!!!! i am speechless at the audacity of these people.

  46. I can only imagine the number of classrooms that could have been built or the teachers that could have been employed with all the money in the Palace loot bags. It is lamentable. It breaks my heart, but it also makes me very angry. I feel that the nation is just at the cusp of outrage but not quite there yet, even following such a brazen act of bribery (Christmas gift, my foot). More Filipinos should stand up and say something, and not merely let the usual voices and talking heads do all the representing on our behalf.

    So, yes, this might be a food blog, and a damn fine one if I may say so. But I admire that you are putting yourself out there with your fiery opinion, as we all should. What you’ve just said up there represents what many of us have been thinking and feeling. I am glad that you are not so far removed from the reality of the situation in the Philippines, and that you dare to write about the bigger, more encompassing hunger for justice and truth.

  47. i agree, the payola issue stinks. but cash gifts/contributions etc etc is so part of our culture. suddenly this isn’t acceptable? the tentacles of civil, political & religious opposition to GMA is long, wide & well funded. i wouldn’t judge GMA to be guilty of every crime she’s accused of, which many readers here seem to. this is the nature of politics & gov’t. i am an american and it exists in the USA. i have been living in france and it exists here too. i am filipino and i do not expect perfection with our system.

  48. P.S. the perfect social, legal and political system only exists in utopia. sadly that place does not exist.

  49. i always read your blog (but never i leave a comment im too shy) but on this issue it is so hard to let it pass. i am sad and angry that our country will never go forward becoz of too much corruption..sigh..:-( honestly, sometimes deliberately i try to avoid reading news about philippines becoz it upsets me so much…

  50. MM, keep practising what you breach! This is your blog and your little bit of cyberspace for you to rant freely on whatever topic you wish to tackle. You have my full support. Talagang tama na!

  51. To Mikel:

    Sadly, it looks like you’ve been away from the Philippines too long that you have no idea how bad the situation is out there.

  52. betty, thanks, and btw, I saw your recent articles in a local paper, nicely done! :) dhanggit,thank you for your comment. Mikel, I understand what you are saying and I agree that there is corruption everywhere, but I wouldn’t lump France the U.S. and the Philippines together. For a more credible rating, go to this ranking of perceived corruption levels at 165+ countries around the world, link here, and you will see that France ranked around 18th, the US around 20th or thereabouts but the Philippines was at about 125th along with group mates Gambia, Guyana, Russia and Swaziland, and only a hair higher in the rankings than Indonesia and Papua New Guinea. Not the same league at all. Essa, with PHP500,000 in cash, you could feed 1,000 severely malnourished public school children roughly 20 meals each, including banana for dessert! Millet, audacity in droves! Apicio, thanks for that link. DADD-F, yes I do believe I have done my part for volunteerism for government, as well as giving money and time to set up a non-profit school, and supporting various charities, but it isn’t enough. And yes, we all have to make sure we do far more good than we do harm. Mangaranon, that is the best part, in 6 days since the distribution, NO ONE has admitted where the money came from, PHP200 million just appeared in the Palace in paper bags and was distributed… hello?! incredulous!

  53. The problem is that the elections here are a joke. Poll-winners usually resort to gimmickry, cheating, or buying. People elected into office are either unqualified, cheats, thieves or bullies.

    But I still haven’t lost hope. I think slowly but surely the Filipino electorate is finally wising-up and I hope the results of the upcoming polls would show this trend.

    But c’mon people! Hurry up!

  54. kindly allow me to provide the link;
    What do the least corrupt top 10 nations do that our country can’t do? Take for example Singapore- hard on crime..eye-4an-eye
    We seem to have the smartest people (just like what all pilipinos that I meet claim) and yet, we continue to vote and put in office the most corrupt. Enough is enough. Vote wisely.

  55. P.S.
    Sorry, MM. When I first read your follow-up comment, your “link” was not yet click-able. My bad.

  56. yes MM. i know abt. this study. you know why the western nations sush as us & france are ranked high? because corruption is institutional. it occurs in the highest level of political, legal & business world. so you see, this corruption index is meaningless except for expats doing business in the country. i agree that change is necessary. i do not condone corruption. but in politics, like it or not, you have to play with the devil. if the country progresses despite it, then great. if not, well there was EDSA1. i repeat, this issue stinks. corruption stinks. i do not defend it. but i would rather be realistic.

  57. it is YOUR blog; write what you must! and judging from the number of responses, you hit a nerve. it ought to be talked about. i am a lapsed-filipino [if there is such a thing] now an american living in the US, so i am an observer. i’ve travelled everywhere, lived in a number of diff places in NYC,HI,etc.. ivy-schooled, yadda, yadda. but your condition is not unique. it is endemic to all societies [we have our own here in the US; we have the illusion that with the media, and other mechanisms for ‘checks and balances’ we have it all under control; key word is ‘illusion’]- and these political corruptions is a matter of degree. it is then the responsibility of an educated polity [like yourself and readers] to bring to light those things and question. resigning that politicians are all scum and corrupt, and doing nothing [or keep blogging about the many permutations of a caldereta recipes] helps not at all… but good work!

  58. I agree with the earlier comments – utterly outrageous! The audacity at which the pay-offs (what else could they have been?) were distributed just shows how these trapos view themselves and the (in)applicability of the law to them. The smugness of this Prez and her minions is infuriating.
    As to Lori’s comment, well, ignore, ignore! Your space, your blog, your choice on what to post. I, for one, am glad you wrote about this. I wouldn’t have found out about this outrage otherwise, as I stopped reading the papers a long time ago. Thanks, Mm.

  59. I heard from the radio that you can trace where the money came from.

    Since it was distributed to the government people, it possibly came from Land Bank. They can see it in the paper used to bundle the money.(they don’t even have the brains to remove it)

    Why can’t the government operate like a corporation? you know, like apply for certifications to enhance their management and operation.

    ISO, COPC (and all others that companies aspire to acheive)

    as for the other controversies:

    1. Hello Garci – countless hearings were conducted but none were indicted.

    Garci will be retiring soon and he is entitled to receive a lump sum retirement benenifit of over P2 million. Since he was not not charged with anything, it seems he can claim it anyway. Now they are rasing a fuss. But nobody is rallying that NOBODY has been charged yet.

    2. ZTE – the mentality ” If I go down, you go down with me” operates here. Lots more names will come up but same as always, this will just get dragged on and be forgotten. No cabinet official can testify due to some law the president enforces( forgot what it is called)

    3. Politicians just get recycled.

    from mayor to congressman to senator to mayor again.

    And in between, their wives, sons, daughters, cousins etc take their place.

    Change start from ourselves. Start from the small things. Collectively, it can grow to bigger things. I think it is called the butterfly effect.

    hayy. Sorry MM for my long post. =)

  60. this doesn’t come off as news to me cos i have a bunch of relatives in politics.. not that they’d admit they’ve received 500k, we just ‘know’ these things are happening. it’s not really a matter of acceptance or accepting what is happening but instead of reacting with shock, let’s be more open minded and do something about it. GMA has more balls than any other president i know. haha. i can’t imagine she actually thought she could pull it off after zte and the other controversies. crazy! haha i do hope there’s no more edsa 4. an edsa4 would only make our democracy/republic/country the laughing stock in politics. we filipinos just can’t get it right.
    btw, i dunno if there’s a place for this here but i also don’t approve of gov panlilio. even when he just running, ugh, im not really a fan of mixing politics and religion. we don’t need a chuchu. but hey, i’m no expert in politics.

  61. Have we forgotten how the current occupant of Malacanang came to power? Do we want to do it again and give the current vice prez the top job? When will we ever learn…

  62. Great rant,MM! This was an in-your-face move by the Palace. Apparently, they don’t care if the public finds out.
    It shows me that GMA has little regard for her people. I wonder why?

    I understand that sometimes, just sometimes, we may find the answer by looking in the mirror!

  63. PS: I wonder if any of the receipients said, “No! This is dishonest. I don’t want the money!”

  64. it’s as if we filipinos don’t have any concept of what’s good and what’s bad…and even if we do, confronted with blantant corruption, we don’t seem to have the will to fight it…

  65. Integrity and discretion have long been non-existent in the halls of horror of that little palace-wannabe by the river. What else is new? I think the S**T loads of cash handed out in paper bags (which I hope were recyclable ;))was part of a formal government program to periodically reaffirm their “garapal” nature. Pristine and accountable are not words to describe Philippine politicians, but the current administration should check back and learn from their predecessors. They were all corrupt (like it’s a local requirement for holding office) , but they had a little sense of, though a tad disturbing, finesse.I am too far out to hold a placard and march to the gates, or join a hunger strike, or get harassed in my quest fro accountability by people in office. But I’ve been there and done that, when I had more calories to burn and more passion within. I guess I am getting too old to protest much, so I quietly moved far and away. It sucks, I know. I feel everyone’s pain, and wish I could do my part. In the meantime, it’s kinda like being in hell. Maybe I will just poke fun at it. Bad as it sounds, but the idea accessible. Whew, MM! You started off a great conversation that could withstand five to eight dinner courses on a slow weeknight. Thank you for setting the virtual table, again. Yeah, it’s not about food, it’s about Philippine life, but no worries, that’s what makes Market Manila a really great site. Writing about dessert, soon?

  66. In response to Silly Lolo, the answer is most likely no thought at all. Sure, the amounts involved are shocking. But as Filipinos, isn’t this somehow ingrained in our culture? When my uncle was a small town mayor in the ’70s, a constant stream of people would go to his house to ask for money for medicine, for delivery of the 10th child, konting pangsakla — you name it. This was small time, of course, a few pesos at the most, but it was expected. You go to the mayor, governor, baranggay captain — you don’t leave empty-handed. So, yes, it’s a terrible thing and it should not happen — but surprising it is not.
    As Market Manila Man, I wonder if you should reserve this outrage to the MMDA who is using the poor to terrorize the poor trying to eke a living by selling in makeshift markets (as in markets in Manila!). Yes, they are a nuisance, but I’m sure they are a nuisance only to the rich and the middle class. For me, it is so heartbreaking to see these people beg that their livelihood not be destroyed. Talk about the loss of human dignity! Who is speaking out for them??? The Filipinos should get their priorities and sensibilities straight.

  67. The money given out will be used to buy votes his coming election, don’t you guys get them yet? The DH fiasco was a good thing, someone gut hurt and complained and someone from ABC admitted the mistake and did something about it, but that’s because it’s good for business to admit the mistake rather than lose audience and advertisements.

    Someone already spilled the beans that payola is going on in Malacanang, yet only 2 people admitted they received them out of the 100? Unless all the other 98 or so admit receiving them, then nothing will come out of it.

    Juan dela Cruz would be pleased to vote for the scumbags for P500 than vote with their heart and have an empty stomach.
    Corruption is already embedded into the minds of “MOST” Filipinos. We say the younger generation is our only hope, yet, they are more interested in what brand of cellphone they have than voting.

    Is there still hope? I still believe there is hope, but I feel, we need to change from the bottom not the top and let it bubble up. If today while driving you got stopped by a beer bellied cop and paid him off than get a ticket, or you pay a fixer to get your license, or you pay someone to stand in line for you at any govt agency, you are as guilty as anyone else at the top.

  68. Twenty years ago, the writer James Fallows wrote an insightful piece on “The Philippines: A Damaged Culture” for The Atlantic Monthly. Unfortunately, its not available online. Here’s an excerpt:

    “The tradition of political corruption and cronyism, the extremes of wealth and poverty, the tribal fragmentation, the local élite’s willingness to make a separate profitable peace with colonial powers–all reflect a feeble sense of national interest and a contempt for the public good.”

  69. Incredible! Out of 100 plus civil servants, not a single one chose the path of righteousness! Where is Lot when you need him?! Take cover MM, fire and brimstone heading for the palace. Head out of town and don’t look back!

    I suggested this before and I’m hoping you would consider it … how about a run at a high office? You seem like a decent, upstanding fellow with uncompromising integrity. I’ll even promise to shake off decades of dust from my voters registration card just for you.

  70. Tercer, my father had a several decade long career in public service, initially as one of the youngest cabinet members ever, then serving under three or four separate Presidents in areas that most people wouldn’t touch – community development, population, nutrition, a strange stint in tourism, etc. He was a lawyer with the idealism that public service was indeed an honor, and was once mentioned as a potential presidential candidate. I don’t think he ever made one centavo out of his varied or myriad positions, and he was the son of well to do professionals, his father a lawyer and mother a doctor, who in effect helped to subsidize his long career in goverment. I know he left government service with far less assets than he could have otherwise had if he had just run the family business properly instead. When I first moved home, I did a lot of volunteer work for Presidential candidates pro bono and I never accepted payment, gifts or positions (which were offered) in return. When I asked my dad whether I should consider government service, his surprising and depressing answer to me was “Don’t do it. Government is too dirty now. They will eat you up alive. Your family will have no privacy. You will be frustrated. You will need a phalanx of lawyers. They will do you in, literally and figuratively. I have already done more public service than most families will ever do. Stay a private citizen.” This was, to my memory, one of the saddest conversations I have ever had with him. And it is a great barometer of how far we have sunk as a nation from the highs of early in the last century. I admired my father’s dedication to public service, but I also admired his advice to me after he himself had seen what the government had become. I trusted his judgement on this issue. I continue to help behind the scenes on ocassion, but I don’t think I will ever be in a highly visible role. Besides, on a lighter note, I can’t sing a single song, I can’t dance even under threat of torture, I speak my mind and don’t typically mince words, and, surprise, surprise, I have an unbelievably low tolerance for illogical and irrational people so I wouldn’t last a week, if that.

  71. dear mr. mm, thanks for stirring it up! =) it’s sad, i know of people, friends actually, who entered public service who ended up either being sucked into the system or simply quit out of disgust. it’s sad that the ones who truly want to serve are not given a chance and dissuaded by the dirty system. which leaves those who simply want to serve their own interests holding office.

  72. I cannot help but comment once more. The Biblical adage that goes ” be wise as serpents yet harmless as doves” should be the battlecry of a principled person upon entering the political arena. A lot of people driven by their ambition for power beset all institutions and I have had my “fling” with them. Yet, although I have retreated and kept solitary, I still believe that a positive change in society is still possible. I hope with all the “small” actions of idealism what each and everyone of us practice wherever we are put in will oscillate and set a counter energy pull to the downward spiral of all the disgusting actions of our fellowmen.

  73. i just brought with me a paper bag with 2 pieces of bread, an egg, and a hotdog for my “take to the office” mid-morning snack. Wait, I’m checking it again if it has bundles of cash….. wala… I’m clean.
    Seriously this issue angers me. I’m down to a few hundred pesos after paying bills and stuff and all i have to do is wait for the month’s end for my payslip and glare with anger at the income tax deduction which now cuts more painfully. I was watching the TV coverage of congress men’s luxury vehicles entering and exiting Malacañang and I don’t see a KIA Pride among them. Am I angry? The keyboard is banged up a bit as I type.

  74. lee, I want to know first who gave it. If no one admits to this, there will be difficulty nailing anyone. But the whole episode is just so distasteful, it makes one want to puke regardless of technicalities… does this mean if someone leaves money near a BIR officials home and he just finds it that is okay? or if cops figure out that money is in people’s hubcaps that is okay? Ridiculous.

  75. I have been seething since the Hello Garci episode. Am ready to take my marching boots out of storage (last used in 1986 at EDSA)and take to the streets. If only one credible, incorruptible, truly nationalistic person would lead the way. Where are the businessmen who said sobra na, tama na in 1986? Are they now also so inured to our country’s problems that they have chosen “complacency over frustration”? (After all, a history of Phil. revoultions show that revolutions start from the dissatisfaction of the middle class, not from the masses.) Sino ang bagong Cory Aquino natin? Ang bagong Chino Roces? Who is willing to sacrifice for us these days? Magising na tayo at mag martsa na kung kinakailangan. We owe it to our kids and to our country. Let our voices be heard.

  76. Oh, and MM, this is YOUR blog and you can say whatever you want! (as long as it’s not libelious, lascivious or lewd! Hehe!)

  77. Our country must now really be a laughing stock around the world. The government that we have is deplorable and a downright disgrace to the stellar line-up of statesmen we had of yesteryears. Wow! Money in gift bags, no paper of acknowledgment to sign, no explanation of what it’s for, everyone else taking it as if it’s the regular order of the day…sad, sad, sad…It’s just good that this move didn’t sit well with a few officials (those new to the system apparently). It makes me very angry as a taxpayer and embarrassed as a citizen. I used to love this country to a fault and continued to hope that our future will shine bright. But with all these issues cropping up, I’m glad my family and I are seriously considering life in Singapore. Thanks MM for this post.

  78. What makes it so frustrating is the fact that the majority of people who suffers most are the ones who voted these corrupt politicians in the first place, and still not realise it. May the fleas of a hundred carabaos gnaw the fingers of those who touch the stash!

  79. I’m sorry, I don’t understand the objection to this topic. I agree with the others, it’s your blog and you rule. You’re not forcing anybody to read your blogs are you. At any rate, I for one, share your (and apparently, many of your readers’) DISGUST over the numerous fiascos of the current Philippine government. It just points to the deep-seated corruption in the public sector. It is so disheartening. I’m a newbie mother and my husband and I quail at the idea of raising our child in such a country where the poor gets only poorer and the government officials are getting richer at their expense. I do not understand the apathy of many of our countrymen. I wish that WE would actually rise up and challenge the system…maybe in our little ways, we can affect the system. That’s why I love the new Coke commercial…it’s message is so simple…SHARE A LITTLE LOVE (look at what they did in the ad…they took a totally worthless and harmful junk such as the Grand Theft Auto Game and transformed or based their new ad in such junk to teach the RIGHT values). Shouldn’t all of us try to SHARE A LITTLE LOVE? I apologize for the long post…but I would like to end it with the following quoatations that I copied from Ray’s (character in the commercial) MySpace account:
    Success comes in cans, failure in can’ts.
    Be the change you want to see in the world (I belive this quote came from Gandhi).
    No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.
    Make every drop count.

  80. I was hoping that Arroyo would rise above the common practice of patronage politics as after all she was once hailed as one of the most promising, young, highy-educated and capable leaders of the country at the time when the country was experiencing the post-EDSA transition years.

    I was hoping she would not be like one of those ‘trapos’ that has dominated the political landscape of the country for many years now.

    Man, that was so naive of me.

    This latest gaffe from the her administration is definitely an outrage and it speaks volume of how she governs and how she peddles influence amongst the people around her — not to mention the complete disregard to how her political allies might perceive the so-called ‘gift-giving’ that transpired recently.

    This may just be her final waterloo as I suspect the Congress would make an inquest soon. There’s also been some ramblings in the military circles going around … so she must be really worried.

    I feel sad for the country. She really deserves better than this … kind of ironic that this is happening now when the economic indicators are getting better recently.


  81. I think MM’s rant is applicable in this blog since, the Filipinos are being stewed in our juices or as the vernacular goes, “iginigisa sa sariling mantika.” And since the Pinoys are the taya all the time,Balagoong tayo.

    Other than the government bank, no government office should be dispensing cash. While working for the US Naval Ship Repair Facility in Japan, we dealt with funding documents. Just paper transactions. Malacanan should have just transferred money through the DBM to the provincial gov’t’s coffers.

  82. i absolutely agree that the latest expose is outrageous. absolutely appalling! as the previous scandals preceeding it are. i don’t think people are apathethic though. i believe the great majority of us are still very much disgusted with this graft-ridden administration, but we’re just too tired to march to edsa for the nth time upon hearing a whistleblower’s testimony. i can somehow understand the frustration– the public rises to the challenge, unites and demand change, only to find out hte supposed public servants we were pinning our hopes on to implement reforms not only succumbed to abuse of power but even tend to be worse than the ones they replaced.

  83. Ranting about blatant corruption in government is i think our responsibility, if only to prove that apathy has not taken the better of us. We should be indignant about this recent scandal and thank you MM for giving us the venue to express our opinion.

  84. The mystery question is where did the money come from? For me it all came from us Filipinos, Filipinos who made extra effort to do overtime work just to put a better shelter, food & clothing to their families. We are one of the country with the highest Income Tax (Be corporate or Individual) and yet we don’t see anything good coming from it.

  85. In an effort to earn enough moolah to sustain my humble living, I have been too busy and caught up with work that I haven’t really paid much attention to this fiasco…Having read what MM wrote just makes me wonder if the sky high taxes and prices of commodities are part of the government’s scheme to keep the middle class (economic force) busy in the rat race and not notice at all that everything that they are working so hard for are just being given away mindlessly like candies….*sigh*

    Hats off to you MM, for standing up to what you believe in….boy, have I mentioned how glad I am that I came across your blog?!! =)

  86. Question:

    If you I am working in a private company, can I ask HR not to deduct any taxes automatically?

    That I will pay the taxes on MY OWN?

  87. erleen, you can’t. The law requires deductions, but the the law should also NAIL anyone who misspends your tax money. We have some of the highest personal taxes in the region, but many do not pay the taxes if they are self-employed. But if you add up interest taxes from bank deposits, withholding taxes, VAT and sales taxes, taxes on fuel, travel, etc., we do have a LOT of taxes!!!

  88. hahaha, wawa naman lori, reaping such a firestorm of indignant comments about her comment :-( there there lor…

    in fairness to lor, i can see naman where she’s coming from, devoted food blogger that she is. but yeah, this IS marketman’s blog, and he’ll write what he wants to write…

    and besides, this whole payoff debacle is so outrageous, so disgusting, so insane, so absolutely appalling! it’s a wonder that the public reaction to it has been so lukewarm.

  89. ever heard of psychologist abraham maslow’s heirarchy of needs? in maslows theory, needs are mapped out in pyramid form. the broad array of physiological needs was at the bottom .. joy, love, happiness etc. followed almost equally with a wide range of safety needs: body & financial security, physical health & secure work. transcendent needs like truth, justice, wisdom were in the tiniest triangle at the top. as our lower level needs are met, maslow theorized, people moved up the pyramid.

    i bring up this analogy because filipinos, it seems to me, is looking to politicians now to satisfy a pretty basic-and urgent-level of need. we wish it for ourselves and for the poor among us. we also know that politicians are self serving first. but we also can discern who delivers & works for our benefit. that’s why there is no outcry about the issues hounding GMA. to some of us, it’s all just noise.

  90. It would seem MM, that our fathers were made of sterner stuff. My own father too walked the straight and narrow and did not fall to temptation. Alas, he died with principle preserved, but the bank broken. Although I understand your reasons to keep away from public office, it saddens me that the country continues to want for champions. Btw, singing and dancing? Neither can any politician in these pearly isles. Besides, most folks probably would rather be fed first and we know you can cook up a storm. But thank you for including social issues in YOUR blog and not limiting yourself to singular topics. And thank you for sharing a little of yourself and your father. Please continue to be interesting and every so often provoke us from our civic apathy.

  91. Mr. Marketman is entitled to an occasional rant and I’m glad that he did. I am completely one with his stand and feelings about this issue. I started disliking politicians a long time ago because I feel that they’re just out to fill their pockets and since then, nothing has happened to prove me wrong but only stregthened my perceptions. How long can we endure this way? I’d love to see us moving forward among the nation in the region but alas, it just seem all downhill.

  92. Hi MM, same sentiments here. My blog is supposed to be a family-oriented one, kids-rearing stuff and all sweet things in life (as my blog title implies). But I can’t really control my outrage. I decided to re-print a column from my fave columnist re: the bribery and titled my post there’s an outbreak of corruption in our society. Much to my dismay, no one commented. Yeah you’re right, people are so pre-occupied with their own troubles in life to take notice and even give a d—, but we can’t just be silent and let them do all their evil acts. Evil thrives because good men do nothing…

  93. Hi, MM. Our family has long been involved in government and it absolutely saddens me that these days it is not anymore an honor to be one. There used to be such respect and high regard for Mayors, Governors, Senators, Ministers and the like. These days, mention that you or one of your relatives hold public office and people immediately think you must be rich from being on the take. But I guess I cannot really blame them. Corruption has taken root and grown. This sad state is the reason why our immediate family have decided to also shy away from the political arena. There are so many other ways we can still help.

  94. MM, I appreciate your opening this topic in your blog because we ordinary citizens sometimes need a venue to release all the feeling of angst, dismay, disgust, dreadfulness, etc, etc. that are building up in our minds and hearts because of all the distasteful revelations that keep on piling up in our midst everyday. Seeing only cover ups after cover ups, senate hearings that look like sarsuelas, (making us realize what kind of people we gave seat in the government through our votes), one issue being just covered and overlapped by another bigger issue, without any resolution or course of action. What’s new? The sad thing is, things are not getting better but getting worse. Now, after a week or so after Panlillo’s blowing the whistle popping up the question of where the money came from (with Malacanang vehemently denying knowledge even if the bags were distributed at the strictly and extremely secured premises of Malacanang), the League of Provinces of the Phils. (LPP) is now taking responsibility, what a nerve!. This just brings about more questions than answers. How lowly they think of Filipino intelligence!
    Anyway, thanks MM for all your interesting issues especially about food, places, everything.



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