Political Tidbits is the prestigious column of Belinda Olivares-Cunanan that ran for 25 continuous years in the op-ed page of the Philippine Daily Inquirer, the newspaper that she helped put up with its multi-awarded founder, the legendary Eugenia Duran-Apostol, in December 1985, just two months before the EDSA Revolution.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Now that Speaker Belmonte has cleared the deck for investigation of Delfin Lee in connection with P7 billion Pag-Ibig scam, will House investigate as well Rep. Miro Quimbo, Pag-Ibig’s president and CEO then? Will House minority bloc led by Rep. Martin Romualdez make good its promise to investigate mysterious vertical marks found in random audit of 2013 ballots? Or will these twin moves fall under “abangan” category? Belated cheers to intrepid Pinoys who braved shark-infested, hypothermic waters from Robben Island to Capetown last month.

Will the House of Representatives open the door to full
investigation of the Globe Asiatique issue and the 2013 electoral fraud?
Now that Speaker Feliciano Belmonte has cleared the way for the House to investigate the Globe Asiatique P7 billion scam allegedly perpetrated by Delfin Lee on thousands of small Pag-Ibig investors in two housing subdivisions in Pampanga from 2008 up to 2011,  the natural question is, will Rep. Romero Quimbo, who was president and CEO of the Pag-Ibig Fund from  February 2003 up to March 2009, be investigated as well?  Speaker Belmonte was quoted as saying that “dapat lang lahat sila imbestigahin” together with Lee, now languishing in jail after his arrest.

It will be recalled that Rep. Miro Quimbo was a high-profile spokesperson of the House prosecution team in the Senate trial of former Chief Justice Renato Corona in the first half of 2012. Now there is the apprehension that because President Aquino owes him a lot for the conviction of CJ Corona,  Quimbo might be spared from investigation.

Apprehension has deepened especially after the Palace quickly “cleared” Oriental Mindoro Gov.Alfonso Umali, brother of a prominent House prosecutor in that trial, Rep. Rey Umali,  from any wrong-doing after the governor called no less than PNP Chief Alan Purisima to inquire about the fate of Delfin Lee following his apprehension  by the police. Umali’s palusot was that he merely wanted to know if the arrest order on Lee issued by a Pampanga RTC judge was “still valid.” But that was naked intervention, no less.


On the other hand, the palusot of Quimbo is that the loans to Delfin Lee from Pag-Ibig actually “ballooned” only after Quimbo was “fired” from that post in 2009. But the syndicated estafa perpetrated by Lee, whereby, as the media quoted Vice President Jejomar Binay, chair of the Housing and Urban Development Council (HUDCC), as saying, Lee used fake borrowers and fake documents “to destroy the dreams of thousands of Filipino workers,” began to flourish during the term of Quimbo in Pag-Ibig. 

 As a result of Delfin Lee’s perpetrated scam of P7 billion in fake borrowers and fake documents, the indebtedness of Home Guaranty Corporation,  which guarantees Pag-Ibig loans, shot up to P13.926 billion. All these will have to be paid once again by poor taxpayer Juan de la Cruz. 

Let’s see how the House, famous for protecting its own, and the Liberal Party, which clears P-Noy’s allies of any wrong-doing with lightning speed, would handle this scam now.


I must admit, though, that the House is gaining my respect in a tentative sort of fashion. For aside from opening an investigation into the Delfin Lee scandals with Pag-Ibig funds, the independent bloc in that chamber, led by Leyte Rep. Ferdinand Martin Romualdez and Buhay party-list Rep. Lito Atienza, is also scheduling an investigation into recent finding of IT experts that the random manual audit (RMA) of the 2013 senatorial and local elections yielded ballots that bore mysterious vertical lines. 

The IT experts of AESWatch and the Center for People Empowerment and Governance  fear that these unexplained vertical lines could have compromised the actual readings by various PCOS voting machines---thus bolstering even more the experts’ claim of a 60-30-10 voting pattern nationwide in favor of the administration party.

The appearance of these mystery vertical lines in ballots checked out in the RMA is only the latest in the litany of accusations against the Comelec that cannot be explained, both in the 2010 and 2013 elections. Maybe now, if the House minority bloc won’t be daunted or intimidated, rational explanations may finally surface.


Consider other “realities” of the 2013 elections, as noted by IT experts and raised in a media forum some months back by the civic group "Tanggulang Demokrasya":

1.   At 8 pm. of election day 2013 and right after the closing of precincts, the Transparency Server of Comelec registered 12 million votes for candidate Grace Poe, while only 1,410 PCOS machines had yet transmitted. That’s a 23% output for less than 2% input. Later Grace Poe’s lead of 20.337 million votes was reduced by 4 million in the final Comelec report, without any explanation..

2.   The simultaneous transmission of ballots to both municipal and Transparency Servers presupposed that inputs would be on a random, first-in first-out basis;  but the Comelec report belied this as the 1st to the 16th canvass showed election returns canvassed for GROUPED provinces, cities and municipalities and overseas. These results showed at the very least that they were “filtered” by an INTERMEDIARY terminal.

3.   A 60-30-10 pattern marked the senatorial canvass on the national level, with each of the 16 candidates receiving a CONSTANT SHARE for every canvass. This pattern ignored, for instance, bailiwicks of specific candidates, so that pattern is uniform for all the regions!

4.   Up to this day, 18,000 PCOS machines have failed to transmit results, so where did Comelec get its concluding figures? Given this lousy record of performance of the PCOS machines, it's inconceivable that the poll body would even think of investing more taxpayers' money into more of those machines. The PCOS machines have to be junked for good.


On the other hand, former Comelec official Melchor Magdamo first exploded in media the mysterious continuous printing of ballots at a private printing press WAY AFTER THE 2013 ELECTIONS. The IT experts' opinion is that there's continuous printing in case there is need to open controversial ballot boxes, such as if the Senate orders this to be done. Then switching of ballots can easily be made. 

Considering what Atty. Magdamo knows about anomalies within the poll body, it's not surprising that he has reportedly become the object of fervent enticement to return to Comelec as its “Chief Administrative Officer.”

TThis offer is being interpreted naturally as a bribe to silence Atty. Magdamo, but he turned it down. Hooray for Mel Magdamo.


The two intrepid Filipino swimmers
shown with Buddy and an unidentified Pinoy
I have nothing but admiration for the intrepidity of two Filipino athletes who early last month braved potential shark attacks and frigid temperatures in a South Africa swimming event that celebrated Philippine-South African friendship and commemorated the life of the late SA President and anti-apartheid hero, Nelson Mandela---and as a charity event to benefit our Yolanda victims. 

In a captivating story by Cynthia D. Balana in the Inquirer, lead Pinay swimmer Betsy Medalla, 44, and secondary swimmer Julian Valencia, 40, both formerly connected with the UP varsity swimming team, were featured as the first Filipinos to ever take part in that historic 7.2 km. swim in the shark-infested sea, with temperatures ranging from 12 to 15 degrees Celsius---from the shores of Robben Island, where Mandela was imprisoned in solitary confinement for 18 years, to a suburb of Cape Town, SA.  

Cynthia’s story noted that over 400 people have made the Robben Island swim since 1899, but this was the first time Pinoys---or Asians for that matter--- took part in it.


The Feb. 9  swim, dubbed “Rainbow of Hope: A Celebration of Philippine-South African Friendship---The 1st  Robben Island Swim 2014,” was  witnessed by the large community of South Africans of Filipino ancestry, whose forebears came from the Philippines more than 150 years ago. In the old days before the Suez Canal was built (between 1859-1869) connecting the Mediterranean at Port Said in Egypt with the Red Sea, thus shortening the many months of journey to the "New World," ships had to navigate the Cape of Good Hope crossing at the southern tip of the African continent. 

It is said that in one of those crossings, a Filipino seaman, probably enticed by some African beauty at the Cape Town R&R stop, decided to discontinue with the trip to Spain and instead chose to stay behind. Thus a whole colony of Filipinos arose in that place and until now Pinoy family names have persisted there. I remember very well my family’s visit some years back to the beautiful port of Cape Town and the community of Pinoy descendants near there, as well as to the prison cell in Robben Island of iconic Nelson Mandela, now a World Heritage site. 

And so, in anticipation of that historic swim by our two intrepid Filipino swimmers, which was organized by my son, Buddy, who's the honorary consul-general to Georgia, and South African Consul to the Philippines Steven Chaimowitz,  I joined all their friends  in various parts of the world (me in Manila) in anxious prayer for the swimmers’ safety---that they be delivered from the jaws of those ferocious sharks and the hypo-thermic waters. Luckily our prayers were heard, and except for a slight onset of hypo-thermia in Julian who recovered within the hour, our two swimmers fared well---clocking in way ahead of the 3-hour target.

Good show, guys. 

For comments/reactions, please email:


  1. https://www.facebook.com/delfinSLee/posts/1518952671727287

    know the truth at http://globeasiatique.ph

  2. https://www.facebook.com/video.php?v=1519350991687455&pnref=story

    know the truth at http://globeasiatique.ph