STA. CRUZ, ZAMBALES – Nickel is not doing too well in the world market these days, but residents here do not seem to mind, even though nickel has become one of this town’s major revenue earners.
That’s because whenever nickel commands top dollar, red dust smothers the town’s main highway and the pier, and red mud cakes the roads. Residents also have to share their small barangay roads with huge, lumbering trucks, and when rains come, floodwaters the color of blood fill their ricefields. Meanwhile, up in the mountains, armed guards hired by mining firms menace real and imagined foes and sometimes engage each other in deadly shootouts.
THE LAWYERS and spokesperson of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo have spoken, in many words saying that the 114-percent surge in her declared net worth from 2000 to 2008 could be explained.
In a press conference Monday, her lawyer Romulo Macalintal said the ongoing PCIJ report – whose part 1 was released earlier that day — was “speculative and judgmental.” He added that PCIJ must come up with proof to support its “most unfair and uncalled for” findings on Arroyo’s wealth.
SAN RAFAEL, BULACAN – This bucolic and remote municipality just about 60 kilometers north of Manila may not inspire dreams of wealth among many people, but municipal assessor Teresa Perez remembers a time when land developers flocked here and began driving up land prices. That was during the 1990s, she says, when the urban sprawl looked as if it would reach this area. But the investor interest was apparently short-lived, and now Perez says San Rafael’s real estate market is in another slump.
“Land prices are going down here in San Rafael,” she says. “No one’s buying, that’s why land owners are forced to lower their price just so they could sell.”
Summary: Assets (Real Properties) 1991-2008, Assets (Personal Properties), Liabilities 1991-2008, Net Worth, 1991-2008
By all indications, President Arroyo has worked very hard. In fact, she has worked so hard that during her first years as president, official records show her declared wealth as growing faster, and by amounts much bigger, than the combined growth in the declared wealth of three presidents before her.
The late President Corazon C. Aquino’s declared net worth grew by only 4.8 percent from 1989 to 1992. By comparison, Fidel V. Ramos’s rose by 34.2 percent from 1992 to 1998, and Joseph ‘Erap’ Ejercito Estrada’s, by 7.2 percent from 1998 to1999.
Scenes and soundbites from the 2009 State of the Nation Address
TODAY President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo will deliver her valedictory State of the Nation Address (SONA). The act is the highest level of public accountability for the president that is mandated in the Philippine Constitution – for the country’s chief executive to report to Congress, the bureaucracy, and the Filipino people on the state of the nation.
The question is which Arroyo will show up to deliver the SONA: A boastful, triumphant Arroyo, who will take credit for the Philippine economy’s uninterrupted expansion during her watch or an apologetic Arroyo, who has caused so much pain and misery for a lot of Filipinos and has managed to damage, in varying degrees, existing democratic institutions?
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