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Golden years

January 31, 2016 Leave a comment Go to comments

RRoy’siPadGolden years
Ronald Roy — Feb. 4, 2016

Thank you for asking, Bea (Velasco). Yes, I was once a member of a five-man Land Bank Board of Directors composed of then Prime Minister and concurrent Finance Minister Cesar E.A. Virata as ex officio Chairman, the late Basilio Estanislao as President and CEO, the late Agrarian Reform Minister Conrado Estrella, the late Labor Minister Blas Ople, and myself in representation of the farming sector. Yes, I beam with extreme pride for having served on the LBP Board through the bank’s “golden years” that ended in1986.

One sterlingly outstanding feature of the bank’s corporate culture was the prudent — nay, frugal — management of its funds, one born out of a mindset that every centavo in its treasury belonged to the people; hence, the well-known “second nature” of all officials, officers and personnel at that time to avoid being seen in five-star settings, in fine, to live simple lifestyles.

Leadership by example
Chairman Virata and President Estanislao were very strict with themselves. They were never seen hobnobbing in luxury surroundings, except whenever official functions required their presence thereat. Thus would the world see leadership by example in action as all the “Landbankers” followed suit!

Land Bank became the first “universal bank” in the country, thereby enabling itself to help former landowners invest their cash and bond payments in business ventures. It also financed rice production to boost market supplies, thereby helping to stabilize price levels of the staple. Finally, our banking operations ended up in the black, unlike other government financial institutions, with the exception of the Social Security System under the stewardship of the late Administrator Gilberto Teodoro.

Culture shock
But all this ended in a culture shock when, after the Edsa uprising, Pres. Cory Cojuangco Aquino did two things. She increased the LBP President’s monthly salary from P 8,000 to P 20,000, and condoned the non-payment of P 88 M in loans previously granted to Communist leader Dante Buscayno’s two cooperatives. Expectedly, a new bank culture of prodigality would see mind-blowing increases of salaries, bonuses and perks for everybody.

Planning conferences in affluent settings would likewise be in vogue, and the austere lifestyles would dramatically depart further away from the culture of the bank’s principal clients: the lowly farmers and peasants. Shame, indeed, considering that Prime Minister Virata’s official accessories then included the cheapest ball pen called Bic, a Cavite-made lawanit attaché, and a pair of Ang Tibay shoes!

Resignation letter
By the way, Bea, the Prime Minister had secretly kept a signed resignation letter ready for submission at any time he felt he was being ordered to perform an unlawful or unpatriotic act. This must be stressed for the record, if only to show that the golden years of Land Bank, bred as they were out of selfless corporate leadership, can serve as a model for today’s government institutions.
Would that this treatise were noted by the Social Security System’s officials, officers (and personnel) who are now under furious public scrutiny for having allocated for themselves unconscionable salaries, bonuses and perks at the expense of the dissipating contributions coming from SSS members. Indeed, would that a culture of frugality pervaded the entire government in the management of the sovereign people’s money and other assets.

Bea, House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte’s open defiance of an order from the Supreme Court is nothing short of appalling chutzpah. It is dumbfounding that he continues to ignore the high Court’s order for him to recognize Lord Allan Jay Velasco as the duly elected congressman for Marinduque, and to facilitate the orderly removal from office of Regina Ongsiako-Reyes who, along with the Speaker and House Secretary General Marilyn Barua-Yap, would rather defer to the authority of the House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal.

Surely, a backdoor conciliation must have been attempted to avoid a constitutional crisis between the House and the Court, but why it failed can never justify the Speaker’s adamance, notwithstanding his higher #4 standing than the #5 position of the Chief Justice on the totem pole of power and authority. It is rank chutzpah, to say the least, because as a lawyer Belmonte should know better.

Otherwise, he should return to law school to learn that in re final settlement of all judicial and quasi-judicial controversies, it is the authority of the high tribunal that ranks the highest; and it will be bad news for Belmonte and Yap if the Supreme Court decides to assert it by flexing its contempt muscles…in which case they could be jailed and/or fined as a result of their insubordination and disrespect.

In fairness to them, however, I would rather suppose that their steadfast defiance is born out not of pride or hubris, but of such political pressures as usually come from the House’s majority, or from the feisty Palace occupant.

09186449517 ronald8roy@yahoo.com

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