Washington Sycip: Mike Arroyo is heavily involved in jueteng networks
I was browsing ABS-CBNNews.com when I chanced upon a story that grabbed my attention at once.
It was about a classified cable from the US Embassy in Manila released by none other than WikiLeaks. The cable talked about how the corruption in the Philippines was worsening and that then First Family was involved. The First Gentleman Mike Arroyo being personally connected to illegal activities and his wife former president (now Pampanga representative) Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo knew about it.
But of course, the way the cable was written didn’t prove that the two infamous personalities were in fact involved in corruption. It only showed the opinions of the businessmen in the Philippines about the political condition of the country as it relates to the economy and the business community.
But the most intriguing portions of the cable are those statements that came from Washington Sycip, founder of the largest professional firm in the Philippines – SGV & Co. Sycip has always been regarded as everyone’s consultant. He happens to have very strong and wisdom-filled opinions on anything, including corruption.
The way the cable has been written seems to show that Sycip has first hand knowledge of the widespread corruption in the country.
Here are some of the excerpts from “the partial extract of the original cable,” which according to WikiLeaks is not available.
——-¶1. (C) Influential members of the Manila business community increasingly express concerns about how corruption is undermining the RP’s economic outlook. According to long-time Embassy contact Washington Sycip, who is widely respected as among the top economic observers in the country, corruption is at its worst ever and is making it impossible for democracy to work in the Philippines. President Arroyo’s husband, he claimed, is one of the worst offenders, with a reputation for corruption seeping down to all levels of society and eroding PGMA’s political standing. Francis Chua, president of the Federation of Filipino-Chinese Chambers of Commerce, claimed that almost all business people perceive worsening problems with corruption. He echoed Sycip’s assessment that the First Gentleman is a major problem with respect to corruption. X X X End Summary.
Corruption and Democracy
¶2. (C) Manila business leaders have increasingly expressed serious concern about how corruption is hindering their ability to conduct legitimate business. Washington Sycip, a founding partner of SGV (the country’s most prominent accounting firm and an affiliate of U.S. firm Ernst and Young) has become increasingly pessimistic, claiming privately that corruption nowadays is at its worst, surpassing even the Marcos era. He has expressed doubt about democracy’s suitability for the RP. Emboffs strongly objected to Sycip’s assertion that the RP should reconsider democracy, underscoring that the U.S. would not support any move to non-democratic leadership. Sycip has responded by pointing to countries in the region with stronger leadership, such as Singapore, Malaysia, and China, claiming they have made more progress in improving their citizens’ well-being through non-democratic systems. Sycip has further argued that, in countries with per capita GDP under $3000, Western-style democracy leads to cronyism and corruption. He pointed out that two out of the last five presidents elected here have been removed from office by non-democratic means, leading him to conclude that the Philippine democratic process is choosing the “wrong” leaders. Of special concern was corruption in the judiciary up to and including the Supreme Court, which has destroyed the constitutional system of checks and balances.
¶3. (C) According to Sycip, First Gentleman Jose Miguel “Mike” Arroyo’s behavior, in particular, is damaging the credibility of the government and hinders President Arroyo’s ability to implement anti-corruption measures. Sycip claimed that Mike Arroyo is heavily involved in the illegal gambling or “jueteng” networks and closely connected with major smuggling syndicates (ref B). President Arroyo, according to Sycip, is aware of her husband’s misdeeds, but she is unwilling to do anything to curb his activities because he was instrumental in marshaling campaign donations and is now keeping those supporters in line to help her maintain her grip on power. X X X
¶4. (C) In response to complaints about corruption, President Arroyo agreed to form an advisory group, of which Sycip is a member. The group has advised the GRP (Government of the Republic of the Philippines) to abandon taxes on earnings and shift to taxing evidences of wealth because taxing expenditures “better suits” the Filipino character and will ensure better collection. It has advised the DOF (Department of Finance) to publicize the amount of VAT retailers collect and turn over to the government to dissuade underreporting. Sycip nonetheless has lamented that the GRP and PGMA, in particular, seem rarely to follow the advice of the group. X X X.
Click here to read the entire cable.