Tuesday, July 18, 2006

The Man With Half A Million Employees (And Not Much Else)

KORINA TODAY on ABSCBN News ("men of the hour, flavors of the month") interviewed incoming Education Secretary Rep. Jesli Lapus (NPC, Tarlac, Chair of House Ways and Means Cmte, once president of Land Bank and previously USec of Agrarian Reform.) Dry as bone, though he gamely denies it "after office hours", Lapus also gave a humorous self-description: he finds it ironic he says, that people used to tell him he wouldn't do well in politics because he was such a technocrat, but now they say he won't be any good in Education because he is such a politician. Maybe this reveals a "can-do" self-confidence with a "just-you-wait" attitude at the kibitzers. Or maybe it was just a clever line he dreamt up, but he deserves benefit of the doubt to try and do some good. He claims to be a manager at heart, and doesn't like having been stereotyped as a finance type. Well he's gonna need the experience dealing with people since he takes over the largest single bureaucracy in the government, with over half a million employees, (not all of whom are teachers by a long shot). There is however, very little else to Deped aside from the teachers, principals, administrators, analysts, supervisors, superintendents, reviewers, secretaries over and under, and the rest of the government employees that make it up. Most of the public schools don't even have reliable water or electricity, so forget about computers and books. Despite double and triple shifting the facilities, classes are even held in bathrooms and out-of-doors. Of course there is an ever increasing number of students flocking to the "free" public school system. But it is little wonder that Deped is almost all employees and not much else. Just look at how the budget is divided among Salaries ("Personal Services"), Monthly Overhead and Operating Expenses, and Capital Outlays. The teensy weensy sliver is the School Building program. And that was cut in half from last year! Probably to make room for the Opus Dei inspired Values Education module that now suffuses the Philippine Education Learning Competencies of the Basic Education Curriculum documents like incense on Maundy Thursday.

WHAT'S A BUDGET FOR? Asked about this highly illogical 85%-11%-4% split of the Deped's 9-figure budget, Jesli Lapus gave the stock answer that seems to be the graveyard for any criticism of the Deped--"We aren't spending enough on education."

He states forthrightly that the portion going to salaries is "fixed". How right he is! Under the 2006 budget Deped would get P119 billion or so and spend, as shown about P101 billion on themselves in salaries. If the 2005 budget is re-enacted Deped would get about P112 billion for a budget. But they would still spend the same P101 billion on paying themselves! In other words, The ED in DepED is not Education but "EmployeD". But Jesli Lapus does not seem to be clueless. He mentions the scandalous situation, recently exposed, that 70% of high school science teachers are not science majors! (And how about the English teachers who can't speak English?). I think that if he is as good a manager as he claims to be, he will realize a few weeks into the job that he's running Fedex with half a million drivers, but no trucks, planes, phones, computers or even hand-doillies to help in the delivering of packages. And when the truck drivers union wants to hire more truck drivers, BEFORE investing in any trucks or computers, he might even get kicked out unless he complies. Likewise, the Deped employees cannot be denied their P101 billion in salaries. It's the Law since they are civil service eligibles.

So the bad news for Secretary Lapus is that not only does he have practically nothing but employees, he can't get rid of any of them in order to buy class rooms, computers, libraries, laboratories, speech and AV equipment, Internet connections, or yeah, lights and running water for the students.

Why? Because we "aren't spending enough?" No, we aren't spending the P150 billion total (Deped + Ched) in a rational manner. We are spending it in what we think is an idealistic or altruistic manner, substituting pious handwringing for what is really a self-defeating trap that ends with the inutile bleat "We aren't spending enough on education."

I claim this: get rid of all the SUBJECTS in the curriculum that don't teach Math, Science, English, Pilipino or Social Studies, and Mr. Secretary, at least 15 billion pesos will magically appear right in the middle of the present budget, and you will be the hero that will solve those alleged "resource gaps" in the basic school facilities that the STUDENTS need: classrooms, Internet, textbooks, light bulbs! (I know, I know "people power" will hound you out of the Deped, but the students will love their laptops.)

RELATED POST: Our Patriotic Curriculum and the Classroom shortage



(2130) Is JocJoc Bolante In Trouble With US Law?

Senator Ramon Magsaysay, Jr. suggested today that the fleeing Jocjoc Bolante may be in trouble with US authorities for more than immigration violations. The report is that his visa was cancelled upon the request of the U.S. Embassy in Manila, and he is apparently being detained in a San Pedro California facility, pending the resolution of certain procedures, including a reported plea for asylum. I hear from certain people in the San Francisco Bay Area that lawyers are being recruited by First Gentleman Mike Arroyo to help Jocjoc. (You know who you are--Shame on you guys!)

Strictly Politics with Pia Hontiveros had on lawyers Amado Valdez (University of the East), Harry Roque (U.P.) and Ted Laguatan, a US based Fil-am lawyer. If I didn't know Ted better, I'd swear he gave the idea for Jocjoc to apply for asylum in the US to Malacanang, given his unusual relish over the easy possibility that Jocjoc will be in the US for 3-5 years "if he has a good lawyer." Ahem. A lil shameless advertising, Ted? As usual, Ted was showing off his knowledge of the legal insider's gobbledygook in the California jurisdiction.

Dean Amado Valdez was right though, Jocjoc can run but he can't hide. And Harry Roque was enraged that Bolante would abuse the right of asylum on the part of those with real reason to seek it from the United States. He mentions the possibility I like best myself, that Bolante is being investigated by US authorities because some of the funds in the agriculture fertilizer scam involved US official development assistance programs and funds.

I'm confident that if enough Filipinos and Americans take interest in this case of possible plunder and international flight, justice will be done to Jocjoc and his handlers. It is atrocious that twobit lawyers in America can use American law to frustrate a warrant for Bolante's arrest issued by no less than the Philippine Senate. America is better than that, and we Filipinos and Americans who love both these countries will surely see to it that they are not debased by the avaricious, the corrupt and those who would use the Law to break its principles. I think Ted Laguatan is wrong. Jocjoc and everyone who has illegally helped him will be brought to Justice despite the goddamn lawyers.

16 comments:

HILLBLOGGER said...

Dean,

Ah dear Jesli Lapus! So very smart but so ... never mind.

Here's my take on Jesli Lapus, the incoming Secretary of Education:

Jesli, who was president of Land Bank and Angie Reyes are extremely close(they went to AIM together).

In 1998, a couple of days after Angie was appointed by Erap his Chief of Staff AFP replacing General J Nazareno, Jesli who was then a second termer in Congress, (1st or second termer can't remember anymore)already used to
accompany Angie to all his sorties and meetings with foreign defence
companies, attending dinners in 5 star hotels with foreigners and acted as the "parlay" man for Angie.

This is the reason why I don't trust Jesli. But who knows, now that he is king of his own domain, he need not need to parlay for another...

Rizalist said...

It's a small world after all, HB. Didn't know that connection between them. I think he approaches the job with no big noble ambitions, as Roco did. I am wondering what his management mind will think of having to run a "company" which would long ago have gone under in the open market. I think it will drive him nuts but if he tries to fix or change it, the Deped mafia will chew him up and spit him out.

HILLBLOGGER said...

Dear old, ambitious and admittedly smart Jesli and former Congresswoman Sandy Ocampo and daughter of JDV's former chief of staff, Cong Pabling Ocampo of Manila, were sweethearts (he was estranged from his wife).

HILLBLOGGER said...

I mean, Jesli was (not sweet Pabling!)

HILLBLOGGER said...

Here's Senator Pimentel's take on Jesli Lapuz: "I think that he could not add anything substantially good to a rotten administration. He would be better
off if he stayed on as a member of congress."

Amadeo said...

Dean:

To be fair, Ted Laguatan is only one of many FilAm lawyers who specialize in immigration law. And reading through the several FilAm papers here in the Bay Area may give the reader the impression that ALL our FilAm lawyers are into immigration law. They appear to all advertise themselves as such and others write regular columns about immigration. I suppose that’s where the relatively easy money is. I recall paying a godly sum to a FilAm lawyer for something I learned later on that I could have done (filed) myself for no related costs.

I am assuming, though I have no pretension of knowing the intricacies of immigration law here nor can I read his mind, that his confidence about an asylum case dragging on from 3 to 5 years may be because the entire country (and California state particularly) is right now besieged and overwhelmed by all these entangled and complicated immigration problems and issues. And for which the entire bureaucracy may not be able to handle expeditiously.

The prognostications of some sources, both here and there, that there may be more to this than just purely visa-related may be well founded, for after all, if one is caught at a port of entry and ICE determines one does not have valid papers to enter the country, then deportation proceedings are the next immediate step. Yet we read that he was given the option to post a $100K bond.

And FYI, the San Pedro area is in the south of LA, past those little cities where many FilAms reside, such as Carson, Long Beach, etc. And this is the address of the facility:

San Pedro Service Processing Center
San Pedro Processing Center
2001 S. Seaside Avenue
San Pedro, California 90731

Off topic: What about an extended piece on the current MidEast crisis/war? Our compatriots could learn to appreciate the very complicated and protracted geopolitical ramifications in that burning area, as culled from all possible sides of the issues.

Amadeo said...

In news reports related to the Bolante case, the name of First Gentleman, Mike Arroyo, is somehow always mentioned. That he is right now in the San Francisco area and may have been contacted by Bolante. But how does the husband of a state president travel to a foreign country? Incognito? And where does he stay, officially? Is that allowed? Wouldn't the host country be in some kind of trouble if something untoward happens to him and he was not amply secured and protected?

Just curious.

Anyway, if he is not billeted in any hotel here, where else could he stay for extended periods and be safe?

In statements publicly reported on this site:

http://www.bulatlat.com/news/5-15/5-15-arroyo.htm

the following real estate properties were purchased by the Arroyo real estate company at one time or another, i.e., until they were sold to third parties:

1510 Austin St, San Francisco, California
737 Bush St. in San Francisco, CA
1776 Sacramento St. San Francisco, CA
727 Gellert Blvd. Daly City, CA,
2425 Tipperary Ave. in South San Francisco, California

The first three properties are in downtown SF, and based on their prices most likely are multi-unit buildings.

The fourth one is a housing unit in Daly City and the last one in South San Francisco, south of Daly City, and most likely again a multi-unit building.

With no intention to expose him unnecessarily to peril, still this is information that is readily and publicly available for scrutiny and for whatever other purposes.

ricelander said...

Speaking of Jocjoc "The Big Joke" Bolante, will somebody from the Rotary please stand up! Silence is condemning if coming from a organization purporting to spread righteousness in society-- unless they've been transformed into a Mafia of sorts lately so that Jocjoc have become their source of dark pride and glee.

HILLBLOGGER said...

Amadeo,

How did you obtain the info re the properties?

An England NGO is having problems tracking some properties suspected of having been turned over to the Arroyos by way of gifts alleged to have been "pay-offs" for a lucrative contract awarded to a UK company.

Rizalist said...

Amadeo,
Please keep us appraised of what's going on Stateside relative to Jocjoc. There seems to be some kind of news blackout here...can't get any straight answers.

john marzan said...

I hear from certain people in the San Francisco Bay Area that lawyers are being recruited by First Gentleman Mike Arroyo to help Jocjoc. (You know who you are--Shame on you guys

Is Rodel Rodis one of the guys being recruited?

Amadeo said...

Hillblogger:

Since sales/purchases of real estate are publicly documented and reported, info on them are quite easy to secure. The assessor's office would be an easy source.

Of particular interest and relevance in the Bay Area is the fact that many FilAms are in the real estate business, thus quite easy for them to secure history of any real estate property.

HILLBLOGGER said...

Thanks Amadeo!

Unfortunately, the first address the England NGO got led to a wild goose chase so they need to have at least the vicinity where the properties may be located.

But I learned that the England NGO people already have a few good tips but they they are cross-checking their info with their Manila contacts before they act.

ellen said...

The info we got is that since his arrival from Switzerland last July 10, Mike Arroyo has been staying at Nikko Hotel to avoid reporters who might stake out in his house. But he should be coming home to Manila anytime now because he is supposed to be here for his wife's state of the nation address on the 24th.

We tried to call up nikko hotel but we were told they have no mike arroyo as guest. he might have checked in under another name.

Amadeo said...

If such is the case, then he most probably is under the care of the US Secret Service. A SS detail will take care of registering his room and securing it during his entire stay. From experience, we know this is their SOP. So hopefully, his personal safety is assured.

But from experience, we know how difficult sometimes it is to keep such information secret, given especially in this instance that many Nikko employees will be FilAms.

It will be interesting to be a fly in the wall and to find out who the FilAm visitors are coming and going in the hotel.

In downtown SF especially, it will be difficult for anybody even just to show one’s face in any hotel’s public area or outside hotel premises and not encounter another compatriot. They are that plentiful, especially in the hotel/hospitality industry.

Amadeo said...

Dean:

Here is the latest on Bolante from Rodel. He explains many of the unexplained facts surrounding this case and adds his own angle to this story.


Telltale Signs/ JOC-JOC: NO LAUGHING MATTER
Rodel E. Rodis, July 17, 2006

Manila newspapers had a field day last week reporting on the arrest of former Philippine Agriculture Undersecretary Jocelyn “Joc-Joc” Bolante by US immigration authorities at the Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) on July 7. Manila reporters and columnists offered varying theories about why he was arrested and why the bond was set so high at $100,000.

Bolante’s reported friendship with First Gentleman Mike Arroyo and his alleged role in the distribution of the P728 million peso fertilizer fund during the
2004 presidential elections have aroused this interest. Sen. Ramon Magsaysay, Jr., the chair of the Senate committee probing what the press has dubbed the
“fertilizer scam”, issued an arrest warrant for Bolante after he twice refused to appear before his committee in October of 2005. Before he could be “arrested” by Senate officials, however, Bolante left Manila for Los Angeles on October 25, 2005. Upon arrival at LAX in October, Bolante was given a six month visa to stay in the US as a tourist. Before it expired, he left the US, reportedly for South Korea. On July 7, he returned back to Los Angeles with the same multiple entry tourist visa that he used in October which had been issued to him by the US Embassy many years ago.

After he showed his visa to US immigration authorities, Bolante was informed that his tourist visa had been cancelled by the US Embassy in Manila. As he had no visa to enter the US, Bolante was then taken into the custody of the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (USICE) at the San Pedro Detention Center. Bond was then set at $100,000.

Opposition politicians like former Sen. Vicente Sotto III offered their own theories on the Bolante arrest. “It could be a signal from the US government not to use the US as a hiding place. The US is aware of what is going on in the Philippines. The arrest and detention of Bolante have very deep implications,” Sotto said.

Philippine Daily Inquirer columnist Ramon Tulfo reported that the cancellation of Bolante’s visa was done by the US Embassy in Manila at the request of Sen. Magsaysay, “a good friend of America because of his late father’s closeness to the US”.

Whatever the reason, the cancellation of Bolante’s visa by the US Embassy represents a new and significant development in US-RP relations. Even without charges being filed by Philippine government authorities, the US Embassy in Manila can cancel the visa of anyone for whatever reason at the request of individuals close to the US Embassy. To be sure, the US Embassy has always had the power to do so but it was not used, even when Michael Ray Aquino and Cesar Mancao fled the Philippines for the US after charges were filed against them in connection with the murder of Bobby Dacer.

If the US Embassy had exercised this kind of power in 1991 when the Philippine Senate was deliberating the fate of the US military bases in the Philippines, the vote to reject the extension of the US bases’ lease would have been markedly different.

Philippine senators who have homes in San Francisco (at least 5) will now have reason to worry that any vote they take that is contrary to US interests will cause them to possibly have their visas to the US cancelled, leaving them vulnerable to facing the same fate as Bolante.

It may be recalled that last year, Sen. Loi Ejercito was detained for five hours at the San Francisco International Airport by US immigration authorities who interrogated her about her husband, former President Joseph Estrada. According to US immigration authorities, the DHS questioned Sen. Ejercito after receiving a report from the US Embassy in Manila that she had transferred $500,000 to her US account. No charges were filed against her, however, and she was
allowed to enter the US.

Sen. Panfilo Lacson, who has considerable property interests in Los Angeles, may face the same fate as Bolante if and when he next visits the US because he
was named as a “co-conspirator” in the US Attorney’s indictments of FBI analyst Leandro Aragoncillo and Michael Ray Aquino. Will Lacson’s visa be similarly
revoked without his knowing it?

Will this power have a “chilling effect” on the judge, the government attorneys and the private lawyers involved in the on-going prosecution of the five US
marines facing charges in Manila for the rape of a Filipina (“Nicole”) in November of 2005?

These questions have not been raised by Philippine commentators who have all focused their attention on the possible impact of Bolante’s return on the
impeachment of President Arroyo. If he returns and “he spills the beans on some administration people,” Tulfo wrote, “the ensuing scandal that would erupt might be worse than the one created by the Hello Garci tapes.”

They are missing a more significant point. As there are no criminal charges against Bolante in the Philippines and he has not been charged with any criminal or immigration violation in the US, why was his tourist visa canceled by the US Embassy? Is this a one time occurrence or will we see more instances of
visa cancellations by the US Embassy? What are the guidelines being followed here?

On another matter, why was the bond for Bolante set at $100,000 when the average bond set for overstaying aliens in removal proceedings is $5,000?

This question, at least, has a simple answer but it requires an understanding of US immigration law. Before the Immigration Act of 1996, an alien apprehended after physically entering the US would be placed in deportation proceedings while one apprehended at the border or at an airport would be placed in exclusion proceedings. In deportation proceedings, the US government has the burden of proving in immigration court "by clear and convincing evidence" that the alien should be deported from the US. In exclusion proceedings, however, the burden of proof is on the alien to prove that he should be allowed to enter the US.

Although the 1996 law replaced the terms deportation and exclusion with a new term - “removal proceedings”, the distinction remained. In deportation proceedings, aliens are generally entitled to “bond” (not “bail”). In exclusion proceedings, however, aliens are not entitled to be released on bond. If one is allowed to bond out, the bond is usually set at a very high rate, like $100,000.

Bolante has no available relief other than to apply for political asylum in order to stay in the US. Although he may not qualify for it, the application for asylum will allow Bolante to stay in the US for years, out of custody - if he can post the bond.

In the meantime, while he remains in custody, Bolante will have to explain to his fellow inmates (Juan, Omar, Rajneesh and Juangli) why his birth name is “Jocelyn” and why his nickname is “Joc-Joc”. This is no laughing matter.