"In societies where Robbing Hoods are treated like a celebrity it is but natural to expect political parties to act like a Mafia syndicate" Political Jaywalker "In a nation where corruption is endemic people tend to confuse due process with aiding and abetting criminals" Political Jaywalker "War doesn't determine who is right, war determines who is left" Bertrand Russell "You have just one flash flood of money, you keep your people poor. It's like a time bomb and it's scary" Philippine Lawmaker

It's Confirmed - The kleptocrat is coming to Washington DC!

I got it straight from the Philippine Embassy - La Gloria has managed to swing an invitation by the Obama administration for a visit to the US before the end of the month.

Of course the officialdom is already painting the red, blue and white colors of her visit under the shibolleth of "stronger alliance and cooperation" but i think it is also about time we welcome her in Washington DC to answer frank questions about her own administration's dark records in corruption or for that matter in human rights. I will however defer the matter of human rights especially the extrajudicial killings in the Philippines to my Senator from Virginia - Jim Webb.

As we speak, the United States Department of Justice has since November 14, 2007 been in receipt of information submitted to it by a private think tank based in California concerning corruption and related crimes involving mail and wire fraud, money laundering and violation of RICO and U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Acts (FCPA), including New York's anti-enterprise corruption law, that directly affect the President and the First Gentleman.

Barry Sabin, then deputy assistant attorney-general, expressed his appreciation for the group's interest in protecting U.S. and international financial systems against financial crimes. "The Deparments of Justice, the Treasury and State," Sabin wrote "actively assist countries seeking to recover official assets misappropriated by kleptocrats."

"The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is the investigative arm of the Department of Justice and we rely on the FBI to do the initial fact finding for federal criminal issues...The FBI will review the materials (submitted) and determine whether a federal investigation may be warranted."

The rap sheet indicted "President Arroyo and her husband, Jose Miguel “Mike” Arroyo a.k.a. Jose Pidal, and co-conspirators, among others, his former secretary, Victoria Toh, reportedly a resident of Canada; GSIS president Winston Garcia; Pagcor chair Efraim Genuino; former agriculture undersecretary Jocelyn Bolante and DBP president Reynaldo David for diverting and illegally investing public funds in Wall Street whose profits were allegedly skimmed off during bull market."

The think tank said that "when the funds were dissipated by losses caused by the U.S. financial markets meltdown, they washed their hands off while their own illicit gains were not touched and invested in real estate and other holdings including foreign deposit accounts in U.S. and international banks."

According to the information, "The Arroyos’ private co-conspirators include San Miguel Corporation (SMC) CEO Eduardo Cojuangco Jr. ex-Marcos trade and industry minister Roberto Ongpin, ex-trade and industry undersecretary Tomas Alcantara, ex-Arroyo’s publicist Dante Ang, Henry Sy, Lucio Tan (see below); ICTSI president Enrique Razon Jr. and many others to be named later as evidence against them is gathered."

"They received enormous favors from the Arroyos’ of sweetheart contracts for public works and enterprises or to take over government owned and controlled corporations (GOCCs). These private businessmen obviously paid off the Arroyos for the favors and they are likely to testify against the Arroyos to save their skins if and when they are indicted especially in the U.S. for their crimes," the group added.

America has an obligation to ferret out the involvement of these persons in the light of what an international treaty dictates as obligations of countries in curbing their culpability in financial crimes. The United Nations Convention Against Corruption is explicit in its intents, while the Philippines and the United States are committed signatories.

The treaty says “Countries agreed to cooperate with one another in every aspect of the fight against corruption, including prevention, investigation, and the prosecution of offenders. Countries are bound by the Convention to render specific forms of mutual legal assistance in gathering and transferring evidence for use in court, to extradite offenders. Countries are also required to undertake measures which will support the tracing, freezing, seizure and confiscation of the proceeds of corruption.”

To enforce the UNCAC President George W. Bush promulgated in August 2006 the “U.S. Strategy to Internationalize Efforts Against Kleptocracy” mandating the U.S. Government and its laws enforce the convention under this salient provision which reads, as follows: “A critical element in our fight against grand corruption is our effort to deny kleptocrats access to fruits of their corruption. The United States has a wide range of mechanisms to prevent, detect, and prosecute grand corruption, and trace and recover the proceeds of such corruption. We employ the full range of our authorities and tools in a comprehensive, strategic way to target assets misappropriated by current and former senior foreign government or political officials, their close associates and immediate family members, or other politically exposed persons (PEPs).”

What remains to be an perplexing question is why President Barack Obama seems to be playing footsies with the most notorious kleptocrat in the world today. Many are therefore asking - has Obama reversed the Bush doctrine on kleptocracy? This is what its invitation to Gloria appears to indicate. And malicious thinkers opine that the Arroyo billions have contaminated the White House, after all Barack himself is also running for reelection in 2012 and can use the money.

This is particularly suspicious, as President Arroyo herself has been making unexplained detours in recent trips, notably when she made an unscheduled trip to Cartagena, Colombia between her visits to Japan and Brazil. No less than Makati mayor Jejomar Binay said that the Filipino people deserved an explanation for this breach of protocol because she is travelling on Philippine taxpayers' expense.

Almost perfect cover was the alleged hosting by businessman Jaime Augusto Zobel and wife Lizzie, a Colombian. But Cartagena is not even the capital of Colombia. Cartagena is Colombia’s second largest port, second only to Buenaventura where a known Arroyo crony, businessman Ricky Razon of International Container Terminal Services Inc. (ICTSI) has invested $180 Million.

Speculation is rife that the Cartagena trip was really to make a quick connection to Panama. If you goggle "Panama offshore banking", this is one of the items you would most likely capture:

"Expedited Panama Bank Account Service. You can have a Panama Bank Account in 1-3 days. When you order our expedited service you can have your bank account open in just 3 days. It is also now possible to get a bank account and corporation in 24 hours using our rush service. This option does not require you to come to Panama. Select clients can now be interviewed without travelling to Panama." This of course could be made possible with the ICTSI connection.

Border crossings seems to be a pattern for the Arroyos.

Mike Arroyo stayed behind after his wife’s European visit in July 2006. Gloria Arroyo announced that her husband was staying behind in Spain to trace his ancestral links to St. Theresa de Avila. A source said that with a female travelling companion, Mike Arroyo went to Lugano which is "third behind only Zurich and Geneva as a Swiss banking center".

These are interesting leads for the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

But it will hold water only if President Obama has not turned his back on the American people and is not yet in the kleptocrat's tank.

Ado Paglinawan is a former press officer of the Philippine Embassy in Washington DC who occasionally contributes to the Philippines Daily Inquirer. He writes for various email groups and blogs under the pseudonym "mymaestro888". Ado has best served overseas Filipinos as a resource person providing inside information and backgrounders about the celebrated fertilizer scam that rocked the Philippine Agriculture Department and the Presidency since 2004.

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