Malacañang should perhaps have used recent advances in technology when it distributed money to congressmen and governors. But then again, using ATM accounts leaves a trail easily visible to prying eyes and investigators. Like in election cheating, the primitive method is still a better option. So P1,000 bills had to be collected and bundled.
Pampanga Gov. Eddie Panlilio got P500,000, which must have rankled Negros Oriental Gov. Emilio Macias, who admitted receiving only P200,000. But that’s another story. I saw Panlilio wave on television the bundle, several inches thick, all P1,000 bills. Among Ed, on leave from his priestly duties, said the money was placed in a paper bag.
So the bundle can be placed in a large pocket, after all, unlike what Rep. Raul del Mar earlier said: that the amount, which ranged from P200,000 to P300,000, could not have been pocketed surreptitiously by the recipient. Or what if the bundle was passed on to an aide, like what happened to Panlilio? His chief of staff Archie Reyes took the bag.
The bundle of cash Among Ed waved to reporters was packed tightly, meaning much time was spent in preparing them for distribution. Consider the number of lawmakers and governors who attended the Malacañang gatherings last week. Consider, too, the amount prepared for distribution, which surely reached several millions of pesos.
It must have been a sight seeing how the cash was collected and then packed. First, they had to withdraw hundreds of P1,000 bills (good sense must have dictated that these were not to be withdrawn at the same time and in the same bank). Then the packing (I could just imagine the people doing their thing while literally swimming in money!).
Perhaps I should ask p.r. people of big firms, like Globe and Smart, how they distribute giveaways to media people in some of their press conferences. The bundles of cash given to congressmen and governors must have been placed in cartons that were then brought near the door where the recipients would pass. It must have been a sight.
Actually, we in the media are no strangers to this practice of “gift”-giving and “gift”-receiving, so much so that jokes abound about it. Sun.Star’s policy is to return these “gifts” to the giver or donate them to a charitable institution. But there are wayward practitioners, called the “comedia” (their tribe is decreasing), who even solicit “gifts.”
Politicians are the main distributors of bribe money during elections. When they give envelopes after, say, a presscon, reactions of the recipients vary. Some immediately pocket the money; others look around before doing so. Some head directly to the toilet to open the envelope; others do so only when they are sure colleagues are no longer around.
In this age of hidden cameras, one or two of them should have been placed in Malacañang’s money-distribution site. The reaction of the congressmen and governors when they received the money would have been a hit had it been shown in “Bitoy’s Funniest Videos.” How their faces looked, I am sure was laughable.
In the end, though, you end up crying—for our country, and more so for our people. And you’re still asking why Filipinos are leaving this country for good?
–-I wrote this for my Oct. 17, 2007 column in Sun.Star Cebu