Follow the money: This week's outlook
In case you missed my newsletter on greed last week, here it is.
This is one glitter worth a brag and a celebration: the Philippine team has harvested, as of Monday noon, December 2, at least 28 golds in the 2019 Southeast Asian Games that we’re hosting in various venues in and outside Metro Manila. And it’s only the second day of the Games.
The haul looks promising, considering that in the last SEA Games of 2017, we only managed 24 golds overall, making us finish 6th.
But me being me, I will also bring the bad news attached to the Games.
While the road to it was paved with good intentions, it’s riddled with holes that are being covered up now by the massive propaganda network of those who should be made to account for all the money spent on the Games.
As we discussed in our editorial on Monday, December 2, let’s follow the money.
In the case of the SEA Games, House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano wanted so bad to be in the lead – and the only reason we know that is the money trail that kept on following him, as written by Rappler reporter Mara Cepeda.
In the then-proposed 2019 national budget, Cayetano wangled executive and legislative approval to move the SEA Games budget to the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA). After he left DFA, the department would have nothing to do with the SEA Games money.
So the fund was transferred to the Philippine Sports Commission, which disbursed the money to this strange animal called Phisgoc, a private foundation run by public officials. Cayetano's defense now is that he had been Phisgoc head when he was DFA secretary, thus his initial request to lodge the fund with the department.
- It must be recalled that no less than President Rodrigo Duterte had his concerns about Phisgoc, or the Philippine SEA Games Organizational Committee. As early as July this year, Duterte apparently received reports of corruption in the committee formed to organize the Games. In an interview with the Daily Tribune, Duterte said: “Government is the most interested in winning the medals. That Phisgoc Foundation only muddles up the issue. So many fingers are dipping into the hosting. It should only be government.” Duterte eventually relented; he obviouslytrusts his former running mate.
- Getting a committee to mount an international sports event has been the norm, as we reported in this Rappler IQ.
- But here's the Phisgoc conundrum:
- It’s a private entity tasked to spend taxpayers’ money.
- It’s a government-funded foundation headed by an elected lawmaker.
- It was given a lump sum budget to play around with.
- In the absence of transparent processes, oversight on its spending is post-audit already, after the fact.
Following the money trail often yields results that astound a nation.
In the last few days, the journalism world was glued to the power meltdown in Malta over the investigation into the 2017 murder of its most prominent journalist, Daphne Caruana Galizia. (Check out the Daphne Project that pursued corruption stories after her death.)
Daphne had been exposing corruption in Malta, particularly the links of its leaders to offshore accounts that were discovered in the Panama Papers investigations done by journalists from at least 80 countries who pored over millions of leaked documents. Because she followed the money, she was murdered in a car bomb. Because investigators and her relentless family followed the money, they have unmasked her killers. Reuters reported that the men who put the bomb that killed Daphne were paid 150,000 euros (about $165,000).
The arrests came in quick succession last week, raising the likelihood they would trigger no less than the resignation of Malta Prime Minister Joseph Muscat, whose office had links with a flamboyant Malta businessman, Yorgen Fenech – identified as the owner of a mysterious company called 17 Black that Daphne had exposed.
THIS WEEK’S OUTLOOK
The SEA Games will continue until Wednesday next week, December 11.
We’re on a typhoon watch this week, as Typhoon Tisoy (Kamurri) accelerated Monday morning, December 2. It is expected to make landfall in 3 areas in Bicol either Monday evening or early Tuesday, December 3.
On Monday, too, Quezon City Judge Jocelyn Solis Reyes announced that she would hand down the verdict on the Ampatuan massacre on December 19.
Elsewhere, a US congressional panel is meeting on Wednesday, December 4, to determine whether there's sufficient evidence to impeach US President Donald Trump.
Here are the other key events this week:
Tuesday, December 3, 2019
The energy department to face the media, expected to tackle questions on China's apparent control of the National Grid Corporation
Apple is holding event to honor its favorite apps this year.
Saturday, December 7, 2019
Miss Universe preliminary program
Here's to a productive week ahead! Feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. – Rappler.com