"When I despair, I remember that all through history the way of truth and love has always won. There have been tyrants and murderers and for a time they seem invincible but in the end, they always fall - think of it, always."
-- Mahatma GandhiINQUIRER OPINION - COLUMNS
Philippine Daily Inquirer
April 29, 2011
Rolando C. Gapud
Chairman of the Board
Del Monte Pacific, Ltd.
17 Bukit Pasoh Road
Please forgive the familiarity. To the best of my knowledge I met you only once when you were one of Ting Roxas’ fair-haired boys, and we were introduced because I worked briefly for him as a consultant. But I do know Nenita, a sorority sister from college, and our daughters are friends - so I guess I can claim some relationship by affinity. And of course I am very familiar with your work and your reputation - both of the highest quality.
I am writing this open letter to you because we need your help very badly again. By "we," I mean the Filipino people. By "help" I mean your testimony, or at least your deposition, in connection with Civil Case 005 - People of the Philippines v. Estate of Ferdinand Marcos.... LucioTan... etc., a total of 40 corporate defendants and 29 individual defendants - that was filed way back in 1987, and got to the trial stage in early 2006. And the "again" part is because you did execute an eight-page sworn statement, accompanied by two annexes which you yourself typed, on Jan. 14, 1987, which clarified the business and financial relationships between Ferdinand Marcos and his cronies during his dictatorship, and which served as the foundation for Civil Case 005.
Your affidavit ended by saying "...I am prepared to elaborate, if necessary, and execute such document or documents as may be needed to explain such part or parts of this Sworn Statement which may require clarification." You executed another two affidavits in Hong Kong, on the matter, giving more details, and reiterating your willingness to testify.
Why did it take so long for the Filipino people to come to you for help again? Not our fault, I assure you. As you know, the Presidential Commission on Good Government wanted to depose you sometime in 1993, (with oral examination) to be taken in Hong Kong (apparently because there were fears for your life which militated against your coming to the Philippines). But there were objections from some of the defendants, in particular Lucio Tan (please note that none of the Marcoses objected, neither did Cesar Zalamea nor Don Ferry nor the estate/heirs of Gregorio Licaros), and the Sandiganbayan (SB) ruled in their favor.
Why the ruling against taking your deposition? Because, the SB said, the defendants had not yet served their answers. Moreover, you were neither old, nor sick, nor infirm, so there was no urgency, said the SB justices. Of course, the PCGG appealed to the Supreme Court - and it took the Supreme Court eight years (2001) to decide the issue - siding with the SB. One wonders why it took eight years for them to decide. See what the Filipino people have to put up with?
And then, unfortunately, when the last answer from the last defendant was received in 2005, another barrier was raised against getting your deposition as Marcos’ financial consigliere, privy to all the financial machinations of the dictator. This time, even more unfortunately, the barriers did not come from the opposite camp, but from our side - namely the PCGG and the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG). The powers that be in these agencies just sat on the urgent requests of the government lawyers involved (Catalino Generillo for the PCGG, Mauricia Dinopol for the OSG) to ensure that you would be called to testify, or at least be deposed. Can you imagine, Roly? In 1993, they said that your testimony is "indispensable to establish the intricate unlawful business activities of the Marcoses and their principal business associates or cronies, including Mr. Tan," and yet when there were no more legal barriers to securing your testimony, they then delayed doing it for another five years.
You must know, of course, that former solicitor general and justice secretary Agnes Devanadera even went so far as to object to allowing Mariano Tanenglian, Lucio Tan’s brother and former chief consigliere, to testify against Tan, stating that this would not benefit the government’s case (the PCGG agreed with her!); and that the PCGG, at the behest of Devanadera, who in turn "behested" at the behest of Lucio Tan’s lawyer, fired its own lawyer (Generillo) who was making waves for the prosecution and striking fear in the hearts of the defense. And after having done so, the PCGG publicly announced that it had a weak case against Lucio Tan. The latter, by the way, was photographed sitting beside Devanadera at a testimonial for her in the Department of Justice. How’s that for a cozy relationship?
Now you surely see what the Filipino people have to put up with. And realize how much we need your help.
And the best time to help is now - because now, both the PCGG and the OSG are on the same page as the Filipino people. These two agencies have been showing a lot of spine and teeth, thank heavens. They’re doing things that were unimaginable under the previous administration - like asking for the SB justices to inhibit themselves (showing a pattern of bias), like pursuing once again the possibility of getting Tanenglian as a state witness, and actively trying to secure your testimony. Actually, it seems that the Aquino administration itself is on a mini-roll here. Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez has just resigned, and we’ve finally got a credible appointee to the Commission on Elections.
And with you on board, the Filipino people will finally have more than a fighting chance to get back what has been stolen from them. We’re talking about at least P220 billion here.
Please? For Inang Bayan. Sincerely, Winnie.