December 01, 2008

A reaction from Rhoda Poliquit

THIS is a reaction to an earlier item I wrote on Barry Poliquit, who has been found guilty by the Senate two years ago for his alleged involvement in the P728-million fertilizer fund scam (click Senate report here). It comes from his wife, Rhoda. We yield this space to her in the interest of fair play.

Hi, Stella...

Long time no see. It's been, what, 16 years? Somebody gave Barry a copy of your blog entry, and I thought I should send you a comment.

Some things have changed, and a lot of them haven't. The kids have grown - the eldest finished Computer Science at AMACU in 2005, the second, Biology at UPLB last April, while the youngest is a Statistics sophomore in UP Diliman. The girlfriends get more airtime than the mom does, haha, and I miss my babies on weekends.

We still live in the little house I got through a 15-year GSIS loan after I was appointed as Director at DAR in 1990. I have moved on to another specialization, though, on counter-terrorism, crisis management, contingency planning, border security, risk analysis and national security management. Not bad for a psych grad with a pre-med minor, huh?

Sorry about that, but we laughed ourselves silly this morning when we read the PDI article that focused more on Barry's PE degree than any of the other issues at yesterday's 6-hour Senate hearing. It's a long-standing joke in the family, with the kids using it as an excuse so they wouldn't have to follow my career choices for them. ("Bakit pa ko magpapakahirap sa engineering, eh si Dadz nga...")

The Barry you knew at DENR is still the same one you saw at the Senate hearing yesterday, except for the thicker waistline (which he hates) and bigger jowls (which is genetic, you should see his dad). He had good times with Doc Roque at DENR because he believed in the man's talent and sense of purpose. He left DENR in 1993 because of differences in principle with the bosses there, and worked for Congressman Edward Matti for a while. He applied for a job at NABCOR in 1997, was appointed AVP for project management, but also resigned three years later. He has always been like that - he just ups and goes when he doesn't feel happy with the job anymore.

So I wasn't surprised when he told me he was leaving DA because of the controversy on the farm inputs fund, even though he liked Field Operations and enjoyed working with the Regional Directors (from whom he learned a lot). He was relieved from Field Operations on September 1, 2004 and given a new assignment on the development of agribusiness lands.

Maybe the Senators found his answer unusual ("I left because I felt I wasn't going to be effective anymore"), since the stereotype government official "na may pwesto/poder" in their mind is "kapit-tuko" (from first-hand experience, perhaps???)

Even in GSIS, he considered resigning (despite the salary) because his first assignment was a desk job, and he felt like the proverbial square peg in a round hole. It was becoming more difficult to wake him up and send him out by 6:15 AM (we live in Batasan Hills) so he wouldn't be late. I'd lend him my driver every so often because his car got rear-ended one morning - he dozed at the wheel.

So the designation as VP for physical resources was a Godsend (bless you, Atty. Winston Garcia). It was like throwing a turtle into water. Now, he happily leaves the house at 5:45 AM to make a 7:00 AM meeting with the building engineers to walk through the renovations being done, and animatedly gives instructions to the maintenance supervisors at 10:30 PM at the height of a typhoon. It's a well-known story in GSIS that he cheerfully vacuumed the carpet on the 7th floor at 1:30 AM, working the graveyard shift side-by-side with the construction and interior decoration crews so they could meet the deadline for transferring Atty. Garcia's office. He really likes what he's doing.

He's still the same "kengkoy" person you knew from way back. He doesn't SCUBA dive anymore, but he still wears the diver's watch I gave him in 1989. His biggest frustration was not being able to join his old mountaineering buddies Art Valdez and Fred Jamili on the Everest Team - they started talking about climbing Everest that summer in 1984 after we all came down Mayon Volcano. The kids finally believed our mountaineering stories when we took them to dinner with Art, Fred, Leo, Pastour, Karina and Noelle.

Let's have coffee one of these days... my treat.

God bless always,


* * * *

I worked at the DA for three years, even before Barry ever joined the department, and have kept myself updated w/ the goings on there even after I left. I am aware of the farm programs that the department under its different administrations have implemented (some of them actually the same banana, under a new name reflecting whoever is the new President). But there has never been a more questionable DA program than said Farm Inputs and Implements Program of former U/Sec Joke-Joke Bolante. In fact, as the Senate report shows, there is no record at the central office that the program has ever existed.

So if Barry knows something, he should tell all.

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