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Zamboanga Today Online, the most read newspaper in Zamboanga City


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I am not a banker, and neither, an economist. I am simply a layman with just a basic understanding of how money transactions work in banking. In other words, my thoughts on this matter are simply my two cents.

We all know that on June 5, 2017,the Philippine Marines found and recovered a total of P52 million cash in plastic bundles and P27 million worth of checks from the lair of the Maute Group in Marawi City during one of its clearing operations.

As a result of this find, there were lots of speculations that came out as to where these valuables came from and who owns it. Speculations in the social media have it that the Maute Group was funded by some powerful narco-politicians. Stories also abound that these cash horde came from their kidnapping and extortion activities. Some also theorized that it came from the drug lords, gambling lords and powerful criminal syndicates. Others claimed that it belongs to the local political clans while some alleged that it came from the opposition groups. Regardless of whatever the source of the money is, most have speculated that the money is intended to finance the Maute and Abu Sayyaf groups’ foray of terroristic activities in Marawi City with the end in sight to destabilize the government of President Rodrigo Duterte. In other words, it raises more questions than answers and there’s more to all this than meets the eye.

Here’s my take in these convoluted discussions. Unless it is a government authorized depository bank (e.g., Land Bank of the Philippines), a private domestic bank cannot dispense huge amount of millions of pesos in one day to a customer or depositor without the prior knowledge of, if not approval, by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas. Understand private banks are only allowed to dispense and keep certain amount of cash in their vaults in a day. Meaning, this volume of money is only available in government-owned banks.

Drug lords, gambling lords, criminal syndicates and narco-politicians cannot have this kind of paper money in the millions that are freshly minted, bundled in plastics and sequential series in numbers (they are wary of “marked bills” as the NBI can trace and identify them in their illegal activities).Moreover, they cannot even open a bank account and make regular deposits in the millions of pesos; otherwise, the bank will have to report this kind of unusual and irregular transactions to the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC). Hence, this explains why criminals keep their millions at home (e.g., Janet Napoles in the bathtub and suitcases; Zaldy Ampatuan in false walls and private vault at home), or are engaged in money laundering (converting their dirty money in US dollars and stash them safely abroad). And in this scheme, they could only have “used money,” except however, if the money came via government transactions (famous of which is the Special Allotment Release Order, or SARO)from government-owned banks.

What is my point here? Meaning, the withdrawal of millions of pesos is only possible if it is a public fund and it could only be withdrawn in government-owned bank. And besides utmost secrecy and tight security, it requires logistics to move these tons of money (i.e.,armored cars, private or government planes), which can only be done at the behest of a high-ranking government official.

Now, to square the peg in the hole, you might say that this release and movement of money could have happened only during the administration of former President Benigno Aquino III. And most likely, it was done during the 2016 Presidential election – cash cache to be used as campaign funds of candidates and their campaign dirty tricks. And who among the political parties then that could have possibly had this kind of war chest? Would it be the Liberal Party, PDP-Laban, UNA, etc.?  I am sure that after the election and despite their loss in the election, this particular political party would still have this excess money left. And bear in mind as well that the P90 billion of Yolanda Rehab Funds are still to be accounted for up to this day.

Bad me, that part of my being a “conspiracy theorist” would lead us to conclude that the source of the money and checks that were accidentally found by the Philippine Marines could have been from the opposition group (with the possible collusion of the drug lords and narco-politicians due toa shared agenda). Money, in this instance, was funneled through the local political clans in Marawi City and Lanao del Sur and onto the Maute group. And this leads us into another conclusion– that the Marawi Siege, which was undertaken by this terrorist group masquerading as Islamic extremist under the veil of an ISIS-like approach in its terror and destruction, was actually a “proxy war” done at the bidding of the opposition group.

Cui bono? Who stands to benefit from the Marawi Siege? Certainly, the opposition group, which stands to reason why:a) There is a call and move for President Rodrigo Duterte’s impeachment; and b)The call for another EDSA revolution (the favorite modus operandi of the Yellowtards). The Marawi Siege was the opposition’s group casus belli that would help them snowball their objective to destabilize, if not, to overthrow the government of President Duterte. Indeed, these two scenarios have already happened as we can see by what some members of the LP and the Anti-Martial Law advocates have been doing since the siege.

And by proclaiming Martial Law in Mindanao, which the opposition group has certainly foreseen in their financed Marawi Siege; arguably you would say that President Duterte inadvertently fell into their political playbook. Unfortunately, however, their political script did not factor-in the trust and approval rating of President Duterte, which still stand at its historical high of 78%, such that, majority of the Filipino supports President Duterte’s declaration of Martial Law and his handling of the war against the terrorists.

History has shown that there can only be a revolution and a regime change if there is popular support of the hoi polloi. The opposition group has forgotten, perhaps, that we are already living in another time and generation i.e., we are already in the 21st century where the “Cory Magic” and “Yellow Cult” of the 80’s and 90’s have already been dead in the consciousness of the Filipino people. It is then about time for them to move forward for there will never be a sea of yellow anymore in EDSA. What we need at this time of national crisis is unity and support by all, regardless of one’s political creed or affiliation, to President Duterte who is waging, figuratively speaking, a one-man war against drugs, corruption, crimes and terrorism.  As a nation, we are strongest when we are unified.

May God Bless our Country in this time of need. (By Y. A. Joey Tugung)


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