IT IS now so obscure that many government officials don’t even know what it is, but there was once a time when the APO Production Unit, Inc. seemed destined for great things.
‘APO’ actually stands for ‘Asian Productivity Organization,’ which was the name of the Japan-based group that had helped start it more than three decades ago as an outfit that would serve the information and training needs of Asian countries.
IN THE SUMMER of 1977, four young students graduating from the Ateneo de Manila high school applied for the Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC) program, hoping to become Air Force cadet officers when they start their first year of college in the Ateneo University.
The fact that they wanted to become military cadet officers was in itself unusual; at that time, military training for male students was compulsory, and most students avoided the training like the plague by pulling strings or calling in favors in order to get medical or special exemptions.
IN THE nation’s third poorest province, Maguindanao, the poverty incidence is a staggering 62 percent – five of every six residents live on less than a dollar a day. But in the midst of all that poverty, Maguindanao and the Ampatuans have always been awash in cash, not so much because of any economic activity of note. The cash came nearly entirely from Manila, courtesy of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, who has pampered the province and the clan as if they were her spoiled twins.
The popular perception is that running an election campaign has the potential of reducing a candidate to penury. Yet none of those who had served or today want to serve as president and vice president has come close to breaching the spending limit – or even to going shirtless and hungry – according to the separate “Statements of Electoral Contributions and Expenses” they had filed with the Commission on Elections (Comelec) over the last 12 years.
THEY HAVE always been known to be wealthy, but few are aware that the charity cup of the Arroyo clan also runneth over – at least on paper.
Even as they enjoy access to pork and public funds to dispense with charity work, members of the First Family, as well as an assortment of relatives and friends who hold positions in government, have built up quite a collection of foundations and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) with aims ranging from promoting “punctuality” to securing loans from government institutions.
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.”
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