Jose Miguel “Mike” Arroyo’s name cropped up in a corruption scandal once again. It has barely been a week since the Sandiganbayan found Joseph Estrada guilty of plunder and a scandal has erupted again involving the husband of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
BY BENJIE OLIVEROS
Vol. VII, No. 33 September 23-29, 2007
Jose Miguel “Mike” Arroyo’s name cropped up in a corruption scandal once again. It has barely been a week since the Sandiganbayan found former President Joseph Estrada guilty of plunder and a scandal has erupted again involving the husband of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
This is instructive of the fact that no big fish would be caught in the so-called campaign against corruption except those who have fallen from power. For in this country, public office is used for private gain. It is a folly to think that the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act which prohibits relatives of government officials up to the third degree of consanguinity from engaging in business with the government, is being followed. Unlike in the past, the use of cronies is no longer fashionable after what happened to the Marcos family where cronies kept the assets entrusted to them for themselves.
The exposé of Jose De Venecia III regarding the anomalies in the National Broadband Network (NBN) contract with the China-based ZTE Corp. and the involvement of influential officials in the Macapagal-Arroyo administration such as Mike Arroyo and Commission on Elections (Comelec) Chair Benjamin Abalos is very credible. For one, this is not the first time that the name of Mike Arroyo was implicated in a corruption scandal (Remember the Jose Pidal bank account?). It is so hard to think that his name keeps on cropping up just because of a demolition job by the opposition or by any of the perceived enemies of the administration. A demolition job is only as effective as the weakest point of the target. And as the saying goes, “when there is smoke, there is fire.”
Second, the motives of Jose de Venecia III are very clear. He wants to outbid ZTE for the contract. His interest is purely business and not political. Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago’s claim that de Venecia (the son) is a “stool pigeon” working for those who are aiming for a power grab simply defies logic. (To be blunt, logic is not one of the best attributes of Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago who staunchly stood by Estrada when he was in power and is now a rabid defender of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. Her “logic” is based on who is in power.)
Didn’t Jose de Venecia (the father and House Speaker) orchestrate the junking of two impeachment complaints against Macapagal-Arroyo? Didn’t de Venecia take the brunt of the people’s anger over attempts to change the 1987 Constitution? Of course, de Venecia wanted to be prime minister, hence his support for charter change. But he is willing to play second fiddle to a president who wields greater political power. De Venecia also owes Macapagal-Arroyo for being able to retain his leadership in the House of Representatives.
Third, the accusations are being put forward by somebody not even remotely related or linked to the opposition. Jose de Venecia III is the son of one of the staunchest allies of the Arroyo government. He was even obviously shielding the President from being accused of direct involvement in the fraud-ridden contract, even if she witnessed its signing. For that, no amount of mudslinging can soften the blow of his exposé. People believed Chavit Singson, a known gambler and warlord, because he was an insider in the Estrada government. And Jose De Venecia III is an insider of sorts, being the son of one who is within the corridors of power.