Mar’s latest snafu

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They say that those who live in glass houses, especially in the Cubao area, shouldn’t throw stones. This is particularly true if they intend to run for President and pick socialites with controversial parents for bridesmaids at their wedding.

 

The name of Divine Lee, socialite daughter of very controversial—and very much arrested—real estate developer Delfin Lee, has been trending on social networks since last weekend. The younger Lee, you see, was one of the bridesmaids of broadcaster Korina Sanchez when she wed candidate Mar Roxas in 2009.

Now, there’s nothing wrong with Divine Lee being a bridesmaid of Korina and Mar, except that Roxas —in his current incarnation as secretary of the Department of Interior and Local Government— has made a very public dare to his supposed main rival in the 2016 presidential elections, Vice President Jejomar Binay. Roxas demanded that Binay substantiate his claims that some people in government were protecting Delfin Lee, who has been the subject of a long manhunt for allegedly pulling off a scam involving the funds of the Pag-IBIG fund, which Binay now heads as government housing czar.

Meanwhile, Roxas’ other involvement in the Delfin Lee case has been just as suspicious: As the Executive official in charge of the national police, Roxas approved the “promotion” of the head of PNP Task Force Tugis, Senior Superintendent Conrad Capa, to the position of deputy chief of the regional police office in Cebu.

Capa first shot to prominence when his men arrested Delfin Lee inside a hotel in Manila, long after the high-flying real estate developer was sued by government for making fictitious claims on behalf of Pag-IBIG members. In so many words and in various fora, Capa has since accused his superiors—everyone from PNP Chief Alan Purisima to officials of Malacañang Palace—of actually demoting him to a deputy’s post because he was able to arrest Lee.

Roxas has since clammed up on the issue of Lee. “Stonewall” Roxas has been known to do that every time he opens his mouth and inserts his foot into it, like the time he went to Tacloban City to remind the mayor that he is a Romualdez and the President is an Aquino.

It’s a good thing for Mar that his President is so solidly behind him that he will never really want for protection, much like Divine Lee’s dad. Of course, if and when Roxas decides to go it alone in 2016, it will be a different matter altogether.

* * *

While Roxas’ fingerprints are supposedly all over the case of Delfin Lee, he is also being linked to another brewing controversy by those who subscribe to the theory that Mar is also running another department concurrently with DILG. I’m talking about the scandalous attempt by the Department of Transportation and Communications of the P17.5-billion contract to repair, rehabilitate and expand the Mactan-Cebu International Airport.

Of course, another Cabinet secretary, Joseph Emilio Abaya, is supposedly in charge of DOTC. But anybody who knows anything about how Mar runs DOTC, his old post, by remote control through the senior bureaucrats he appointed when he led the department—and who take orders from no one but Mar—suspect that he may have something to do with what’s going in Cebu, as well.

I’m not really a fan of Senator Serge Osmeña, but the lawmaker from Cebu has gotten my attention for threatening to sue DOTC for insisting on awarding the contract to the consortium of GMR-Megawide, despite the fact that the proponent has already been exposed as being in a conflict of interest situation. Osmeña has even responded to President Noynoy Aquino’s snide remark about “ampaws” seeking to succeed him by saying that it is Aquino’s people in DOTC who most resemble the sweet-on-the-outside-but-empty-on-the-inside delicacy.

Osmeña, who still claims to be a staunch ally of Aquino, has also questioned the financial capability of GMR-Megawide, noting that the local partner does not have the financial capability (or the ability to raise the money through local banks) to fund the project. Another Cebuano lawmaker, Rep. Rodrigo Abellanosa, pointed out that Megawide, the local partner of the consortium, only has P8 billion in resources during the recently held Congressional hearing conducted by the committee on transportation on the Mactan Airport bidding project.

DOTC has hedged on reports that the contract to rebuild the Cebu airport has already been awarded to GMR-Megawide. But the Public-Private Partnership Center, led by Cosette Canilao, has announced that the deal has already been sealed.

(Canilao’s PPPC seems hell-bent on pushing the approval of the Cebu airport deal because her agency still doesn’t have a serious, big-ticket PPP project four years after Aquino announced his flagship program. Really.)

 

When Aquino said that Roxas would run “80 percent of my government” after his election in 2010, perhaps you were one of those who think he was actually joking. Well, it turns out that Aquino was deadly serious in giving us a sneak preview of a Roxas presidency, if it ever happens.