Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Atenean Romulo L. Neri – In The Spotlight

Some disjointed, and hopefully not totally rambling, thoughts on the above subject. Read at your own risk and nothing is written and/or claimed as “gospel truth”. And this early, here is my personal disclaimer/representation as to where exactly I am coming from. I hope it is sufficient for the purposes I have summarily envisioned in my mind.

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The Philippines’ former NEDA head, former presidential economic adviser, and now present CHED czar, Romulo L. Neri, for a good eleven hours yesterday was under intense and glaring spotlight and scrutiny in the Philippine Senate being asked to testify about what he knew about the now embattled NBN deal (currently suspended by President/under TRO by SC) between the Philippine and Chinese governments.

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A few days prior to the testimony we saw the Philippine media in close cadence with a vocal and vociferous segment of the local blogosphere (quite few in numbers when compared with the total), with long knives unsheathed and pointy claws bared, wasting no time and giving no quarters trying to sandbag, second-guess, pin to a corner, dove-tail, mold, define, or negatively allude to Neri’s person, his integrity, whether he will demonstrate strict compliance with his forsworn duties to his God, country, family, and maybe even the family pet. One even questioned the educational values of the Jesuit institution that Neri spent his HS in. Sanctimoniously implying that Jesuit schools mold some kind of automaton which will robotically act as taught and admonished, subtly castrated of innate free will and the rest of the noble qualities derived from his human nature.

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And while the testimony was ongoing, the self-anointed busybodies in the Comments sections of some blogs were quick almost unanimously (in echo chamber fashion) to denounce Neri, and these pure-of-heart Galahads in the warm embrace of their sanctimony were quite generous in their ad-hominem labels for Neri, ranging from one derisively alluding to a locally derided sexual orientation to one comparing him to a many-celled parasite. One wonders how many of these people have even served a part of their lives in earnest public service, in the country they so avidly profess to love, honor, and serve. But instead have themselves taken the less-resistant way out – to work and live in a foreign country. Like in some more prosperous Asian country or in Europe, maybe?

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Funny but I can’t remember, maybe because I simply quickly scanned through a number of the pertinent sources in the Internet, any one item of statement or comment that at least claim that Neri “lied” in his testimony so far. . Yes, he declined to answer some questions, whose answers would have involved bringing into the picture his immediate superior, the President, without first consulting with that person. And most everybody is agreed that that President, however tainted or maligned, is still entitled to invoke that privilege. So can’t people wait for that consultation before making any judgment on the one testifying?

But didn’t Neri already subtly imply that if the information not revealed involved high crimes, whether personally believed by him or based on recommendations of his lawyers, he would personally override that restraining cover under executive privilege? Sorry, I am not now inclined to re-reading the transcripts, so I could be wrong about Neri’s mention of high crimes.

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The partisan crowd was sorely disappointed. It entered into this arena, hell-bent on bringing down the unpopular President, with united minds determinedly cemented to the conclusion that this usurping Lady needs to be exposed and sent to the gallows. But the anointed executioner did not faithfully follow his scripted role, and what is actually coming out, strictly based on the virtual executioner’s point of view and his reading of the events relevant to the issue on the table, is that only a smaller fish can or may be served in a small platter.

Where did the executioner go wrong? Maybe his facts as facts do not jive with the facts as scripted? Maybe, crowd should ease up a bit to fight another day?

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The partisan crowd wanted its pound of flesh, now and not tomorrow, or any other day. Unfortunately, the butcher did not deliver pronto. So, now the butcher has become the swine, to be quartered and served as the alternate menu.

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Neri said: NEDA.. .. . under the president, not independent. So whether it was established as a constitutional body is not a valid bet here. But the answer speaks volumes.

Neri serves under the authority and confidence of the President. He can disagree but allow the President to make her own final decision on the matter, and still find sufficient justification to continue to stay in office. After all, if President loses confidence, out the door he goes, hopefully without the added provision that the same closing door hit him as he leaves. Or maybe he can resign when any disagreement ensues and maybe consign the rest of his life to some unheralded corner of unreality, where he can nurse his unrealizable or utopian expectations. It is solely his call.

BTW, didn’t the interrogators show a very marked disconnect from the nature, extent and culture of the lumbering bureaucracy in the country? Thus referred to as the micromanager, this President caters to a very top-heavy concentration of powers, so that practically all government executive actions and decision emanate from her person? And that her subalterns are simply there mostly for advisory and/or ministerial capacities? Not that this is any different from past presidents, right?

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Neri invoked executive privilege on conversations he had with the President for two possible reasons. He is withholding information because revelation may implicate the President and her family, or because he wants the President to speak for herself on matters directly attributable to her. If Neri speaks and implicates the President, it could possibly boil down to a “he said, she said” confrontation, until an outside independent source can be brought in to confirm who is into falsehood. Much like the Abalos bribe try.

Ushering in the following questions:

When she returns, cannot the President be asked to testify before the Senate re this deal?

And while we are on the subject of seeking truth, cannot a Chinese and/or ZTE official be invited to shed light? What’s the harm in trying?

Unless, is it an accepted and foregone conclusion that they are the alleged source (s) of the proffered bribes? Or that bribes had actually been offered by them?


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Hang in there, fellow traveler Romy. This may be one of those instances where it still pays to be made a fool by others.

And let me end, for now at least, with the firm hope that when one Googles your name to search and tally the juicy items written about you, this little bit helps in easing the collective pain brought on by the cruel onslaught of blind negativity colonizing the Internet.

Update:

Well, Well. Finally, getting some evenhanded treatment of Romy Neri.

From Inquirer.
From Mr. Babe Romualdez.
Another from Inquirer.