‘I told you so’ 2

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Saturday, June 14, 2014

WOMEN dominated this week’s headlines. Was it time to revisit the Sun.Star Cebu column of 19 March 2005 titled: “I Told You So”? We wondered.

Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, Social Welfare Secretary Corazon Soliman and Commission on Audit’s Heidi Mendoza were confirmed, after years of stalling by the Commission on Appointments. But not before the CA was severely trounced for political partiality.

Didn’t you tell us so? emailed Manuel de la Torre from Idaho, USA.


A week earlier, we wrote in the Inquirer: “Women who hew to principles and refuse to be cowed include Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, Commission on Audit’s Grace Pulido-Tan and Heidi Mendoza, Social Welfare Secretary Dinky Soliman and Internal Revenue Commissioner Kim Henares, among others.”

Sen. Jinggoy Estrada, who’s headed for jail over plunder charges, was puzzled. De Lima, Soliman and Mendoza never solicited his vote. Indeed, many CA members wouldn’t recognize delicadeza even if it bumped into them.

Other women who towered include: “housewife” Corazon Aquino, who sent a dictator packing. “People Power 1” installed Cory as the 11th—and first woman—president. She re-established constitutional government, served with integrity, oversaw peaceful transition and returned to her modest Times Street home.

The first woman Supreme Court justice, Cecilia Muñoz-Palma didn’t buckle when colleagues surrendered to Marcos the 12th-century prerogative of courts to rule on habeas corpus pleas. She flayed the farcical “Citizens Assemblies.”

Presidential Commission on Good Government chair Haydee Yorac recovered $683 million from Marcos’s Swiss bank accounts. Senior vice president of Equitable-PCI Bank Clarissa Ocampo refused to certify a P500-million loan when then president Joseph Estrada signed as “Jose Velarde.”

One wishes then mayor Tomas Osmeña showed the same grit over yen loans for South Road Properties. In May 1997, Osmeña stated “Cebuanos would not pay a single centavo” of what was then a P2.3 billion loan. Serial devaluation since then tripled that bill. "National goverment would pick up tab,” Osmeña insisted. It did not. A stamp-pad city council relished the the role "a harem of eunuchs," as “I Told You So” noted.

Today, City Hall shells out a million pesos daily just for interest for a loan whose last installment payment will fall in 2025. Our grandchildren will be strapped with IOUs they never sought.

The first yen-loan bill came in May 2005. “Osmena lopped off P60.9 million from Cebu’s loan from Japan Bank for International Cooperation to pay JBIC. Money hocked from Tokyo was used to pay Tokyo -– plus interest on the interest.

To smudge the actual size of yen-loan bills, City Hall books, were “understated”—a polite word for “doctored”—by P1.71 billion, Commission on Audit’s Helen Hilayo wrote. City Hall fudged by using outdated yen-peso exchange rates. The actual bill chewed almost two-thirds of the annual budget.

COA flogged then SRP overseer Nigel Paul Villarete to shape up. He did--grudgingly. And Cebuanos discovered being strapped, without a by-your-leave, with IOU bills stretching into 2025.

Osmeña’s yen loans racked up a foreign debt burden of P60,654 on every man, woman and child in Cebu City. None of 146 other cities is that deep in hock. Compare that to P44,548, per capita, for national IOUs.

How about “I Told You So, 3" for 2016? joshed a friend. No. We don’t have a crystal ball. All that is clear, for now, is the ladies then, like today, will tower. Move aside Jejomar Binay and Mar Roxas.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on June 15, 2014.


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