March 20, 2013 by Paul Farol
L. Ron Hubbard, the founder of Scientology, was claimed to have said “You don’t get rich by writing science fiction. If you want to get rich, you start a religion.”
I’m not into religion bashing, really. I believe that everyone will ultimately account for their own world view and their actions in their own way. Some will call out to Jesus, others to Jehovah, others to Buddha, and some to one Hindu god or another. I don’t know who atheists will call out to, really, but I guess they will have their own way of looking back at their lives and find things to account for — to whom or for what, I have no idea. But, still, I believe that we will account for things — it is in our nature to remember, regret, and perhaps seek a way to atone for deeds in the past.
If religion ever has an evil thing about it, it is what some people in the name of their religion or worse, what people do because of their religious organization’s clout — which, in either case, may not have anything to do with the tenets of their faith.
I am certain no religion will at all permit its members to profit over something using unfair means.
While I’ve seen so many people bashing the Catholic Church over its stand on contraception, abortion, homosexuality, euthanasia, legalized prostitution, and other things, I haven’t seen a lot of people pick a fight with Islam or the Iglesia Ni Cristo over the same things.
We’ve seen Carlos Celdran doing his “performance art” at a Catholic Church, supposedly to protest the Catholic Church’s meddling in government matters — specifically the RH Bill. But what I haven’t seen are people who protest the under worldly maneuverings of members of the Iglesia ni Cristo in politics and government dealings.
One blog I’ve found makes mention of the Manalo aka Iglesia Ni Cristo Mafia:
Religious Dynasty runs in the Iglesia Ni Cristo. The Manalo family is influential in Philippine politics. Manalo family is filthy rich. INC members are proud of it even if most members are in a dire state of poverty; Manalo followers are proud and sometimes boastful of these blessings.
One former official of the Department of Justice managed to get his post supposedly because of his clout with the leadership of Iglesia ni Cristo and apart from his main job at the Department, he “fixed” some problems for members of his religious organizations in exchange for favors for the powers that be. As you can imagine, some of these problems had to do with certain legal cases of some members of the INC and then some.
This happened in the previous administration and guess what? It’s still happening in the current administration and in a very recent instance, it’s happening over a government contract to supply an IT System to the Land Transportation Office worth P8.3 Billion.
The winner of the government contract is supposed to takeover from Stradcom and supply the LTO with the following: Motor Vehicle Registration System; Manufacturers, Assemblers, Importers, Dealers Accreditation; Reporting System Drivers Licensing System; and Revenue Collection System.
Being a driver and car owner, I know exactly the inconveniences of having to deal with the LTO. Renewing your drivers’ license takes hours and in certain instances, may take half of the day — by the end of which, you’d be so tired from waiting in line it’ll be impossible to get any work done afterwards.
The field of bidders were recently reduced to just three: Digitext Asia, a company owned by former Camsur Governor Lray Villafuerte; Fritz and Macziol Asia, a German IT Systems Integrator known worldwide for its expertise — highlighted by its work on the IT systems that supported the 2012 Olympics; and Eurolink, a company who I am told is heavily backed by the Iglesia Ni Cristo.
For a while, it seemed that the bidding process was going on smoothly and really cleaving to the “Tuwid na Daan” of President Noynoy Aquino.
The first sign was when the DoTC announced that it had disqualified Digitext Asia after it was discovered that it lacked very important documents required for the bid — one of which was the Billing of Quantities, which details the specific items and services it would deliver to the LTO. Â If the DoTC awarded this bid without the Billing of Quantities from Digitext, it would have allowed the company to supply or not supply a number of things.
Notwithstanding the fact that Digitext itself does not have the expertise and track record to implement any of the systems in the LTO bid. Â Digitext is actually relying on Trimax and New Tech Media solutions. Â If it is somewhat of a joke to bid for something you have neither expertise nor track record in supplying, here’s the punchline: Trimax is a Mumbai based tech firm in a part of India that is known worldwide as a counterfeiting capital and New Tech Media Solutions is owned by the Binondo Mafia, the so-called financial capital of the country’s underground economy.
Oh, and did I tell you that Digitext Asia is owned by former Camsur governor Lray Villafuerte? Yes! The same Villafuerte who is running for congressman under the banner of Team Pnoy and the same one who is embroiled in a number of plunder charges amounting to more than P50 Million.
If at all DoTC Secretary Jojo Abaya would make his mark on the “Tuwid na Daan” it would have been with this.
But alas! Today, things seem to have gone awry, after columnist Jojo Robles and Mary Anne Calma Â that the next bidder in line after Digitext, Fritz and Macziol Asia was disqualified over items that weren’t at all essential to the bid.
Here is part of Jojo Robles’ column on the LTO IT Bid.
Transportation Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya and his bids and awards chairman Undersecretary Perpetuo Lotilla have already eliminated the last viable bidder for the contract, currently on an extended run with hard-luck provider Stradcom”Germany-based Fritz und Mackiol Asia, which submitted a lower bid of P5.3 billion. That price, taken together with the extensive track record of FuM, should have swayed the DOTC bids and awards committee of Lotilla to give the contract to the German outfit.
Instead, FuM was disqualified on technical grounds that the company said amounted to trivial and non-substantive grounds.
Besides, the only remaining bidder, an outfit called Eurolink, offered a higher price at P5.8 billion. But Eurolink, which is supposed to own the most extensive chain of emission-testing shops authorized by LTO to operate (a measure of its insider clout at the agency), was never disqualified by the IT consultant hired by DOTC to look into the bids.
The consultant reportedly has close fraternal”as in school fraternity” ties to Lotilla, apart from being under the direct influence of LTO's longtime owners. This influential group has run LTO for so long that it needs to capture the IT upgrading contract that Stradcom will leave behind, if only to complete its domination of the agencyâ€™s operations.
Of course, if the upcoming DOTC announcement concerns a failure of the bidding process, that can only mean that the Stradcom contract (which expired last month) will have to continue for at least two more years until a new bidder is found who will meet the requirements of Abaya, Lotilla and the committee. And that will surely delay ”if not totally derail ” the department's plans to upgrade the current IT system.
Ultimately, if the IT project bidding is declared a failure after repeated tries, the contract can be expected to go the negotiated route. And if that happens, given the dismissal of all other bidders except Eurolink by Lotilla and his panel, no one is going to bet that anyone else will end up with the lucrative deal.
Which is sad, really, because this sort of bureaucratic hanky-panky was supposed to have gone out of style with the previous administration. Apparently, Abaya and Lotilla are making sure that, if the crooked system can't broke”or if it's been running as good as ever before under their watch” then who are they to attempt to fix it?