While tens of thousands of Filipinos overseas are raising funds for the victims of typhoons Ondoy, Pepeng, Ramil, etc. a 14-man Philippine congressional delegation led by Speaker Prospero Nograles arrived here from New York Nov. 2 and stayed at the posh Sofitel Hotel. The purpose of the visit was to reportedly meet with Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other US congressmen.
But Nograles aksi used the occasion to celebrate his birthday in DC (Just like President Arroyo), at the Monocle Restaurant, a walking distance from the Philippine embassy.
The next day the delegation was busy with their appointments at the Hill, etc. But like GMA, the Speaker can’t help the temptation to eat at the expensive Van Nuys Steak House, located in front of the Sofitel hotel.
The party of 14, dined on steaks, lobster, etc, with wine of course.
Lo and behold, it was a white man with a strange accent who paid the bill. It’s the same man who paid for the other expenses of Nograles and his delegation.
Now who is this mystery white man?
Filipino Americans who have been contributing money and other forms of relief goods for the victims of typhoons Ondoy and Pepeng are angry, bristling. They are wondering why, according to reports, they will have to pay for donors tax if they contribute or distribute relief goods to the starving victims of the floods..
To show their indignation, about a hundred Filipino American activists demonstrated in front of the embassy to protest the so-called donors tax and the alleged hoarding of relief goods from foreign governments by the Department of Social Welfare. The are also angry at the bureaucratic gobbledygook of DSWD Secretary Esperanza Cabral who admitted in a statement to the media that DSWD warehouses were full but that her office had to use a calibrated release of the donated items.
Some Tsismosos are castigating some fund-raisers, including some officials of the Philippine governemnt, who reportedly deducted money from the funds raised for the services they rendered. .
If we are willing to open our wallets to help the evacuees in the Philippines, why cant some people offer their time and services for free? asked one Tsismoso. Many organizers of benefit concerts, shows and dinners to raise funds for the Filipino victims have turned over all the funds raised for the victims. Artists, who usually are paid thousands of dollars per show, have performed in the benefit shows for free, pro bono, gratis et amore, libre. Yet there are some who charge for their services. There are even gatecrashers who refuse to pay for tickets or their food and drinks.parThe Manila Mail, according to the editors, published a full page ad about the Alay concert for the benefit of the typhoons victims on Oct. 15 for free. It is also distributing more than 1,000 phone cards to Filipinos in the US so they can contact their relatives back home to find out if they are okay..
The Manila Mails national editor and volunteer extraordinaire, Bing C. Branigin, flew to Manila to help distribute relief goods donated by the Washington-based Feed the Hungry. Will BIR charge charge her with a donors tax?
Barat! This was the reaction of some readers to the contribution of a lobby firm who allegedly received more than a million dollars a year to lobby in Washington for the Philippine government. Ambassador Willy C. Gaa himself signed the contract with this lobby firm to paint a pretty face for the Philippines in official Washington. How much did this firm contribute? $10,000 ! The least it could have done was to donate at least 100,000 dollars, said one community leader.
There are many changes going on in the Philippine embassy, according to reports. But the embassy, according to some moles, does not want to divulge their names or disseminate this kind of information to the public. Thus, if you want to call someone in the embassy, all you have to do is: Can you give me the labor attaché? May I talk to the gatekeeper (the person who opens the door to go inside the embassy)? Is the agricultural attaché in, or out? Can I talk to the cultural attache?
Whenever someone criticizes a government official in the Philippines, the first impulse is declare I will sue you. The reason is some government officials think they can manipulate the courts. Instead of doing something to speed up the distribution of millions of dollars worth of relief goods as the blogger Ella suggested, the DSWD chief is threatening to sue. Ella was just so frustrated with the slow distribution of relief goods that she was force to tell the world what was happening in the hope that the DSWD officials will wake up. DSWD Secretary Esperanza Cabral admitted the warehouses were full but explained that its the offices policy to make a calibrated release of the donated goods. Ella was merely frustrated by the slow response of DSWD while people were going hungry or dying.
In her internet message, Ella even said I am not accusing Cabral of graft. But she said the slow response to the calamity was an indication of incompetence on the part of the DSWD chief. She even said that while it was shameful to make the espose to the donors, she had to do it because of the suffering victims.
Ellas blog is now going around the world and many Filipinos whose hearts are crying out to help their countrymen are angry. And Cabrals bureaucratic response about calibrated releases and waiting for requests from evacuation centers and the local government are lame escuses. Ella was only doing what she did because of her frustration in seeing thousands going hungry and dying while the warehouses of DSWD are full!