Gloria’s Underground Department

Mr. President,

There is a new dangerous office in government today. It is the first of its kind in our history. It is the Department of the Underground. And I rise to forewarn the Senate of the Republic and the Filipino people.

Mr. President, the Arroyo Administration has been in power for only a little more than eight months. It is powerful all right. It is powerfully corrupt.

The Department of the Underground has no parallels in history. Its Secretary does not only share the President’s bed. He more than shares her power of government.

He is the First Gentleman this Republic has ever known. He is the devoted husband of the President, the Honorable Miguel Tuason Arroyo.

The Arroyo Administration was constructed, according to the moral preacher who is President, on sound moral foundation. Government functionaries and citizens were asked to be honest. The President, however, forgot to demand from the First Gentleman what she had asked from other people. If she did, Mr. Arroyo was not in the mood to listen.

The Department of the Underground, Mr. President, has become the most inventive, creative, and innovative agency of grease, graft, and corruption. Its expertise is to broker crooked deals and win them. Its excellence is to assign cronies to positions of power and make money out of them. Its essence is to make the First Gentleman an honorable person before the camera. And off camera, it is to bring him the juicy slices of the bureaucracy.

Mr. President, what can be more juicy than the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office? There is no mad cow disease to avoid. There is all cash cow to satisfy the Honorable Miguel T. Arroyo.

Mr. Arroyo is not an accountable officer of government. This we already know. But he surely knows how to count his cash. Without fear of being cowed by anyone.

At the behest of Secretary Mike Arroyo during the May Election, the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office – in silver platters of unmatched charity – disbursed millions of pesos. This was to ensure the victory of Mr. Arroyo’s friends. It was also to hit a second bird – that of projecting to the Filipino People the power of the Arroyo Administration for good governance.

On paper, the money was to be used to air radio spots to promote the charities of the PCSO and its lotto madness in the Visayas and Mindanao. But the real intention was pure political propaganda – radio interviews, favorable commentaries, partisan media releases – for Mr. Arroyo’s candidates.

In the course of the campaign, the four beneficiary-candidates were regularly briefed and updated on the media campaign. They were informed of the frequency of their campaign jingles and news releases. They were informed of schedules for interviews.

Above, they were made to know who the godfather was – the Honorable Miguel Tuason Arroyo.

The cover of disbursement, Mr. President, was made in the form of multi-million advertising contracts.

But that is only the tip of the payola iceberg.

Mr. President, now you can weep. The venerable PCSO – at the commanding behest of the Honorable Miguel T. Arroyo – approved into motion and pumped into action an advertising budget of PHP250 million. I thought this Administration was starved of cash!

Mr. President, this huge money went into the professional pockets of broadcasters who were tasked to pay hosannas to the Arroyo Administration. There are names and amounts listed in sworn affidavit of a witness.

The media blitz provided for direct payment of PCSO money under what Mr. Arroyo loved to describe as special operations – a distinctive name for payola. Money was withdrawn from the Kamuning BPI Branch on several occasions and given to several media people. Again, this is contained in the same affidavit.

Mr. President, if Chavit Singson had his ‘listahan’, my reliable informant did one better. He used his daughter’s ‘cuaderno’ to indicate those who were his regular payola beneficiaries.

That the payola recipients received their due for services rendered, is not the issue here. They were only doing their thing.

The issue, Mr. President, is that the presidential husband has gone overboard. He has abused his affinity with the President to milk agencies of government for his selfish interests and those of his ilk. This must be stopped. He must be stopped.

Mr. President, I ask that this matter be given immediate attention and investigation by the Senate. My informant – as well as others with similar courage – are into hiding but will come out at the proper time. He is Mr. Robert Fronda Rivero.

The Honorable Miguel Tuason Arroyo does not man the Department of the Underground all by himself. He is assisted by many people who should be summoned before the august body. I refer to Press Undersecretary Roberto Capco, Ito Los Baños, Jack Arroyo, Manny Estrella, Resty de Quiros, to name a few.

The money trail is easy to track. The underground artists are harder to crack.

Some informed sectors now believe that the enemy is at the gates of Malacañang. Mr., President, I disagree.

For the enemy is already inside. He has been there for the last eight months. He is in bed with the President no less.

It is bad enough that Her Excellency President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo has failed to stop the enemy’s advances. How can she? She is still in cloud nine. And the country is in chaos.

Mr. President, I decided to call a spade a spade. Let the ax fall where it must.