Despite the ongoing public attention attracted by the scandals and investigations concerning Senator Leila de Lima, and the burial of the remains of ex-President Ferdinand Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani, many issues and controversies remain unresolved—marginalized undoubtedly by the continuous surge in news of more scandals and anomalies everywhere.
During the 2016 political campaign, Senator Grace Poe, who was running for president, announced that her husband was going to apply for Philippine citizenship. What happened? The Poe camp is silent on this matter.
Having won her citizenship case in the Supreme Court by a divided vote in a largely constitutionally untenable decision, Poe is now legally qualified to run for president in 2022. Will she run for president again? What do Vice President Leni Robredo and Senator Manny Pacquiao, both seen as contenders for the presidency in 2022, have to say about that?
What happened to the shoe controversy on the internet involving one of Poe’s children? Has it died down with Poe’s 2016 presidential ambition?
Days prior to, and during and after the actual canvass of votes for the 2016 national elections, the Commission on Elections billeted several foreign executives of Smartmatic Inc. (the service provider for the voting machines used during the elections) at the Novotel Hotel at the Araneta Center in Cubao, Quezon City. The official Comelec line said Novotel was the nearest respectable hotel which could house the Smartmatic officials.
Why did the Comelec choose Novotel for the Smartmatic executives when the national headquarters of the Liberal Party was based at Novotel? For the record, the family of Mar Roxas, who was then the LP candidate for president, owns Novotel.
On election day, it was reported that several voting machines were sighted inside Novotel. At first, Novotel management refused to allow the news media to go inside the hotel. It was only after Comelec Chairman Andres Bautista arrived several hours later that Novotel management allowed an inspection of a few, but not all, of its guest rooms. This means that the voting machines reportedly sighted in the hotel could have been concealed in the other rooms not open to public inspection.
After that sloppy “inspection” of just a few rooms pre-selected by the Novotel management, Chairman Bautista declared that no voting machines were found in the hotel. Good grief!
Why did the Comelec chose to billet the Smartmatic officials in a hotel known to be the headquarters of the administration’s political party? There were many other reputable hotels available in the metropolis, so why did the Comelec chose Novotel?
Since the nerve-center of the national canvass was at the Philippine International Convention Center in Pasay City, wasn’t it more practical to house the Smartmatic officials at the nearby Hotel Sofitel (the former Philippine Plaza Hotel), or in any of the four-star hotels in the nearby Cultural Center complex?
Philippine election laws explicitly prohibit aliens from meddling in Philippine elections. What was the role of those alien Smartmatic executives in the 2016 elections that prompted the Comelec to house them at the Novotel during the election canvass?
Who paid for the accommodations of those aliens? Was the contract with Novotel subjected to public bidding as required by law for contracts involving large sums of public money?
Smartmatic is in legal trouble abroad for anomalies involving their election voting machines, and the Comelec was aware of that. Why then did the Comelec award the election canvass contract to Smartmatic?
Prior to the 2016 elections, the news media attributed numerous scandals to then Metropolitan Manila Development Authority Chairman Francis Tolentino.
First was Tolentino’s alleged involvement in procuring the services of scantilly-clad women who entertained participants at an LP political gathering south of Manila. Although that incident caused Tolentino’s ouster from the LP senatorial ticket, Tolentino was not charged with involvement in the trafficking of women. Why not?
Next, traffic lights meant for use in Metropolitan Manila were found in Legazpi City in Bicol, at about the time the LP was still courting Leni Robredo to run as its vice presidential candidate. Could those traffic lights meant for the national capital region end up in Bicol without the knowledge and consent of Tolentino as MMDA chief? What happened?
Third, the Commission on Audit announced that Tolentino spent almost a million pesos in public money for the beautification of a small rotunda near the Ninoy Aquino International Airport a few months before the rotunda was demolished to give way to road improvement. The CoA said that Tolentino was aware of the impending demolition at the time he ordered the beautification project to push through. Why wasn’t Tolentino sued for graft?
In 2014, Senators Sergio Osmeña III and Ralph Recto discovered that, as admitted by then Budget Secretary Florencio Abad, then Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima, and then National Treasurer Rosalia de Leon, P136 billion of the Malampaya natural gas fund was missing. Because Osmeña and Recto did not do anything about this obvious anomaly, a public interest crusader filed a graft complaint against Abad, Purisima and de Leon before the Office of the Ombudsman. The complaint was eventually referred to the CoA where it is currently snoozing. Why is the CoA sleeping on the job?
The same public interest crusader filed a graft case against a sitting senator for her apparent failure to include one of her real properties in her Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth (SALN). This crusader also filed a graft case against ex-Makati City Vice Mayor Ernesto Mercado for the latter’s admission before the Senate that he received at least P80 million in bribe money in relation to the construction of the controversial parking building near Makati City Hall. Both graft cases have not been acted upon by the Office of the Ombudsman. Why not?
In the meantime, expect the next series of anomalies in government to once again distract public attention from these unresolved issues and controversies.