Fr. Romano and pork barrel

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Sunday, July 13, 2014


OUR present crop of news reporters, like the rest of their generation, obviously is not familiar with Fr. Rosaleo “Rudy” Romano. This was quite obvious when cause-oriented leader Paul Rodriguez appeared during the 888 News Forum last week.

Paul was invited to announce plans for the 29th anniversary of Fr. Romano’s abduction last July 11, 2014. Unfortunately, veteran reporter Ely Baquero was not around. I remember him as one of the young reporters who used to interview cause-oriented and opposition leaders then.

Of course, young people who are 29 and below were not even born when Cebuanos rose to protest the abduction of a priest who was deeply into serving the poor and fighting for justice during those dark years of the Marcos dictatorship.

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Thought labeled “Redemterorista,” Fr. Romano merely carried out what Christ taught. I am happy that church leaders like Archbishop Jose Palma and Pope Francis now extol serving the least of our brethren.

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Significantly, Rodriguez mentioned that among the issues Fr. Rudy talked about during the early ‘80s were about the pork barrel and illegal drugs during the Marcos dictatorship.

The martial law years prior to the formation of the IBP in 1978 saw complete control of government funds under the executive department. We did not call this presidential pork and there were no legislators after Marcos abolished Congress in September 1972. The dictator’s complete control of government funds led to cronyism.

A system copied from our mentors in American democracy, legislators also had some form of pork, though very lean, during the time of the Batasang Pambansa. Amounting to only P500,000 per assemblyman, it was then called Support for Local Development Projects (SLDP).

I remember discussions with Fr. Romano on why the government should provide legislators with budgets to carry out local projects though the major anti-tax protest then was against the road users’ tax that saw transport operators and militants together in two transport strikes.

On the illegal drugs issue, I remember Fr. Rudy denouncing marijuana planters who were allegedly helping military and police forces then in suppressing farmers groups who joined anti-Marcos protests.

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Last July 11 was an occasion for a handful who struggled with Fr. Romano to discuss activities for the celebration of his 50th year as a priest and the 30th commemoration of his disappearance. Among the activities is a reunion of those who worked with him. For friends reading this, please PM me on Facebook or send a direct message to @anol_cebu in Twitter.

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I really hope that anti-P-Noy campaigns, especially after the DAP was declared unconstitutional, would not lead to ignoring what the present Napoles cohorts have done. While some quarters are protesting that the three senators–Jinggoy, Bong, and JPE–were allegedly singled out, there is this persistent argument that we should not go after them because there are others not yet charged. The way I see it, let’s punish all who are guilty. Let’s uncover the whole ugly truth.

Still, I am quite amused by reports of Gigi Reyes’ panic attack when she was told of being transferred to a cell with Leftist detainees. This led me to review exposes about her lifestyle like her multi-million 50th birthday bash and a luxury handbag worth $10,000.

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While writing about uncovering the whole truth, a news item yesterday about that rural bank case against Lapu-Lapu Mayor Paz Radaza grabbed my attention. It seems news reports about the case are careful about mentioning the participation of the Gaisanos. But I have long obtained a copy of a DOJ resolution listing the names of the respondents and they include three with Gaisano surnames (Francisco, Peter and Gloria) and one trusted Gaisano personnel. They are big businessmen and heavy advertisers but should not be considered sacred cows. Appreciation of the case would change once we input their involvement.

(Follow @anol_cebu in Twitter)

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on July 14, 2014.

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