Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Do The Math

Maybe now, even as relief efforts continue, it's time to think about accountability and responsibility... and to realize that we don't have to take and accept this.

Excerpted from a facebook posting by Inday Espina-Varona:

... I mention boats because these were the missing links in Onday rescue and relief operations... at around 6 pm of that day Teodoro was admitting the mighty NDCC had 25 rubber boats – half without engines...

The dearth in rubber boats and bancas meant that people were trapped on rooftops for 12 hours and longer. By afternoon of the 28th, the NDCC said government workers had rescued 8,000 – of the half a million homeless and many more affected. Do the math.

Metro Manila has a 15-million population. It has 1699 barangays (as of June 2008). For every barangay to have one banca would cost the government P169 million. Rizal province, equally devastated, has 188 barangays, another 18.8 million. That’s not even 20% of the price of President Arroyo’s 1-billion dream jet.

Do the math. For P1 billion, the government could buy a fleet of 10,000 bancas.

But we don’t even have to talk about Mrs. Arroyo’s Christmas stocking. Let’s just focus on her gustatory delights during a recent US trip.

A leaked report said that while Filipinos mourned the death of former President Corazon Aquino, Mrs. Arroyo and her allies were feasting and drinking at the hoity-toity Le Cirque in New York City, to the tune of $20,000. Another leak said the presidential party also had a $15,000 lunch in a Washington D.C. steakhouse. Still another report said a second expensive dinner had occurred in Le Cirque. If this last dinner cost only $15,000 the tab for all three feasts would have reached P2.45 million.
Do the math: 25 bancas.

Still, those dinners represented just a fraction of expenses in that US trip. A report by quotes Susanna Vargas, MalacaƱang’s deputy executive secretary for administration and finance, as saying that Mrs. Arroyo’s party spent $66,000 in Washington D.C. and $59,000 in New York for various service tips. That’s P6 million. Do the math: 60 bancas.

But even that is just spare change to Mrs. Arroyo’s overall travel expenses, which sparked outrage when a Commission on Audit report showed these had been partly funded by contingent funds – by their very nature, monies set aside for emergencies. Because Mrs. Arroyo, the economist, couldn’t balance her travel budget, some P95 million incurred by the Office of the Press Secretary (OPS) were charged to the Palace’s contingent funds.(See above url)
Do the math: 950 bancas -- more than half of what Metro Manila-Rizal would need if each barangay is appropriated only one banca.

It is said that every peso that goes to the pockets of corrupt government officials is a peso taken from public services. I’m going to ignore the ZTE scandal, which was a preempted scandal, and focus on the ill-gotten wealth of General Carlos Garcia, former Armed Forces comptroller.

The good general is accused of skimming P300 million from the AFP’s budget. Even if you don’t care about soldiers dying because of a dearth in rescue equipment, you can do a different kind of math: 3,000 bancas.

I think P300 million is a very conservative estimate. Garcia’s son, Tim, just posted a “million-dollar bail,” according to an article by Peter Davis for “The Daily Beast” website.
Do the math: 490 bancas.

If Davis’ description of the young Garcia’s Trump Towers hothouse pad and its contents is true, add another $2 million. (Another 980 bancas). No way did his old man stop at P300 million. But you get the math.

The cited cases alone are enough (P550.45 million) to equip each Metro Manila-Rizal barangay with 2 bancas with change left for petrol. Or 14,877 rubber boats.

And we’re not even talking about Mikey or his father.

Photo credit: Erik de Castro/Reuters

No comments: