Manila Vanilla

What it's like to be a U.S. Fulbright scholar, basketball player, journalist, and the whitest man in Metro Manila.

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Location: Quezon City, Metro Manila, Philippines

New Yorker by birth, shipped across the globe to the world of malls, shanty-towns, patronage, corruption, basketball and a curious burnt-toast smell that wafts around at dusk

Thursday, May 21, 2009

That wily Philippine Navy

Earlier this month a lieutanant in the Philippine Navy, Nancy Gadian, went public with allegations that in 2007, top Navy officials skimmed funds from the 46 million-peso pot intended for the Balikatan military exercises. Balikatan is an annual joint operation between the Philippine and U.S. militaries. For a few weeks every year, soldiers get together to do public works projects and training. All that ditch-digging and handing out rice at schools must win a lot of local hearts and minds, because Balikatan is a perennial public relations shitestorm. This year, there were prostitution scandals breaking as soon as U.S. troops arrived, with papers reporting that local pimps and mamasans in the Bicol region were busing in extra girls to meet the Americans' demand.

It is also unfortunate that Gadian's revelations are also unsurprising. Catching the top brass of any Philippine institution with their hands deep in the coffer is like discovering raccoons in your dumpster. What make this case of malfeasance entertaining, however, is the Navy's recent ultimatum to Gadian: Turn yourself in to the Navy, and we won't be forced to apprehend you.

This woman is already in hiding, for good reason. The idea that the whistleblower will turn herself in to the institution she has outed is lunacy. That's why I like it.


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