There appears to be an emerging pattern of corruption in the administration of President Bongbong Marcos as early it as it took power after the May 2022 election, which is why the inner circle has been topsy-turvy with turf wars left and right, in order for the juicy posts to be given to those who are representing different vested interests.
Take for example the news going around that close to P30M was paid to a holdover appointee in the previous administration in the foreign service to expedite the processing of the approval of the requisite permits for its operation in the country and the importation of its satellite-based internet equipment.
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The above deposit slip shows P28M paid to a marketing company identified with multinational public relations firm Weber Shandwick. Weber Shandwick used to have former Presidential Spokesman Michael Toledo as the head of its Philippine office. Aside from public relations, Weber Shandwick is also known for lobbying for its well-heeled clients around the world. This is why it’s a requirement that its executives are well-connected former government officials.
The local distributor of Starlink, Data Lake, is headed by Anthony Almeda, with the company being owned and controlled by Henry Sy Jr.
Shortly after the payment of P28M was made to BSMG Worldwide Inc., it was able to get an audience with President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. The photo op shows the President with Almeda, Sy, and Philippines Ambassador to the US, Jose Manuel Romualdez in Malacañan. Starlink didn’t make a significant investment in the country and is represented by Data Lake. It raises the question: What was Romualdez doing in Manila when he had better things to do in the US, like attend to the plight of our nurses and teachers who are strongly in demand to fill the labor gap in the healthcare and education sector?
The Ambassador used to be the head of the Weber Shandwick Philippine office before he was appointed Philippine Ambassador to the US. Romualdez was already engaged in lobbying through his contacts in government which he cultivated as a Philippine Star columnist and his association with the late Max Soliven, whose network Romualdez inherited after the other Great Ilokano passed away.
While the payment made to BSMG may be for “legitimate” services rendered, it begs the P0.01 centavo question that needs to be answered in the light of the “renewed” closeness of the Philippines to Uncle Sam and how American influence is actually present in the inner circle of the President to the detriment of Juan De La Cruz.
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