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Delicadeza

Delicadeza
Ronald Roy–Oct. 29, 2013

A reader chided,”Mr. Roy, as a member of the Board of Directors of the Land Bank of the Philippines (LBP) during the Marcos years, you must have amassed a fortune through the bank’s lending and other financial transactions, and helped yourself to unconscionable windfalls of bonuses and other perks. You’re no different, most likely worse, than the current officials of the Social Security System who shocked the nation with their recent demonstration of unbridled greed.” Ouch!!!
First off, allow me this brief comment: The cited SSS officials committed a grave abuse of discretion by passing a resolution which granted themselves a performance bonus of a million pesos each. Repeat: a million pesos each. Arrghk!!! These guys knowingly lavished on themselves the money of citizens including peasants! The horrifying thing is that they even adamantly insist they “earned it, and maliit pa nga yung isang milyon, compared to the countless millions of pork cash pocketed by those good-for-nothing solons.”
But of course infinitely more scandalous is Pres. Noynoy Aquino’s reticence about the matter. His offense here is one of omission for refusing to crack the whip, thereby exposing himself as a hypocritical advocate of his own daang matuwid mantra. In a word, P-Noy is guiltier than all of them put together.
In any event, I have been bashed; and if this happened a thousand times, I would still wince as many times, the Marcos past being over 40 years ago not withstanding. Obviously, the reader is a visceral and brainwashed Marcos-hater who has judged me “guilty by association” as the strongman’s appointee. Well, what else can I do except to defend my character with a brief exposition of relevant highlights of my work in government?!
When I was a young man, yes, I was given to the “good life” of a millionaire that I was not. Home for me was the five-star setting of fine dining, ritzy cocktail lounges, exclusive sports clubs and the like. I had no qualms about spending my own hard-earned money in high places where doors let me access to opportunities.
But then, working in the government gradually changed all that — thanks to the watchful eyes of my father, a seven-year stint in LBP, and five years in the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) and the Department of Justice (DOJ).
My father, Jose J. Roy, was a congressman (1946-’61) and a senator (1961- declaration of martial law in 1972); and I will never forget what he told me in 1954: “Ronnie, now that you are a government employee, always remember that poor people, like farmers and fishermen, contribute to a fund from which your salary and other benefits and entitlements are drawn. Like myself, alila ka na ng bayan (you are now a public servant). So stop being seen in those places for the rich. Konting delicadeza, hijo!” Hmmm… wish I knew the English term for delicadeza.
I then found myself excrutiatingly going through a vexing lifestyle shift that I deeply resented. But, as in all of life’s honorable struggles, a triumph eventually came in the form of my recognition of the utter immorality of a bureaucrat’s extravagant lifestyle being funded by lowly fisherfolk and farmers!
Call it delicadeza, or whatever, but suddenly it was downright criminal for me not to forego my playing rights in world-class Wack Wack Golf and Country Club, or the peppy happy hours at some of Metro Manila’s luxury hotels. I gave up these obscene comforts. And when I became the Chief of Staff of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee for two years, I denied myself official travel opportunities to major cities in the world, save for that one time when it was absolutely imperative for me to take a trip to study the socialist systems obtaining in two Scandinavian countries.
My modest, nay, frugal lifestyle proceeded to mark my work in LBP, OSG and DOJ. In LBP, for instance, I did not avail myself of travel opportunities, such as to Taiwan and Japan whose agrarian reform systems offered insights that I could have used in relation to my role as the farming sector’s representative on the LBP Board. But I refused to do so, since the country was then encountering forex shortages.
I was a Director of LBP along with four others: Finance Minister Cesar E. A. Virata as ex officio Chairman, Basilio Estanislao as CEO and President, Agrarian Reform Minister Conrado Estrella and Labor Minister Blas Ople. Please note the high-powered constitution of the board in relation to the sort of bonuses and perks that could have been considered to be commensurate to their stature in government.
Well, would you believe that the only “bonus” that we approved for each of us was a paltry Christmas cash gift of two thousand pesos?! That was how prudent we were in the handling of public coffers entrusted to our care — indeed, a corporate management style that explains why only LBP, along with SSS, stood proudly in the black, while the other government financial institutions fell by the wayside in the red.
It just is not fair to brand as crooks or traitors all those who worked under the dictator’s authority, people like Jimmy Laya, Virata, Placido Mapa and Gerry Sicat, to name just a few. Incidentally, a book about Sicat will soon be launched to the glee of the usual yellow horde of detractors who cannot wait to take pot shots at him. Harrumph!

(https://musingsbyroy.wordpress.com | 09186449517 | @ronald8roy | #musingsbyroy )

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