The papers collectively known as the Oscar Rodriguez Papers (ORP) are documents given to a parliamentary mission sent by the Japanese Socialist Party (that later changed its English name to Social Democratic Party of Japan in 1991) to the Philippines in March 1986. The parliamentary mission was dispatched to Manila following the release of the Marcos Honolulu Papers (MHP) by the US government. Media coverage of the MHP in Japan was extensive since the papers strongly hinted at corrupt business practices and other irregularities of several prominent Japanese business firms awarded contracts in connection with Japanese-government funded projects in the Philippines.
In Manila, the parliamentary mission was able to meet Oscar Rodriguez, who allowed the visiting parliamentarians to copy the almost 1,400-page document set he had in his possession. Rodriguez, undersecretary of the Department (or Ministry) of Public Highways, was appointed by President Ferdinand Marcos as the implementing officer of the Philippine-Japan Project Loan Assistance Program (PJLAP). The PJLAP was a special government agency organized by President Marcos to oversee to oversee all Japanese government-funded yen credit projects in the Philippines after the imposition of martial law in September 1972.
Four years earlier, the Japanese Reparations Program ended. A provision of the peace treaty between Japan and the victorious powers provided that Japan must pay indemnify the nations it conquered and occupied during the Second World War. Under this program, the Philippines organized the Reparations Commission to receive the Japanese indemnifications used to finance infrastructure and other development projects. The Commission was headed by Marcos’ friend, war-buddy, and fellow Ilocano, Senator (formerly General and Secretary of National Defense) Eulogio Balao of Cagayan province.
It could be discerned from the perpetuation of testimony proceedings of former Marcos cabinet member Baltazar Aquino (subject of another blog post), and documents pertaining to the Angenit Investment Corporation in the Marcos Honolulu Papers (MHP) that Balao ensured that percentages of Japanese reparation payments found their way into President Marcos’ bank accounts. Since these Japanese public funds were used to purchase Japanese equipment and services (in the manner of ‘tied aid’), Japanese suppliers had to pay ‘commissions’ to Marcos through Balao so they can be awarded the suppliers’ contracts.
For his part, Baltazar Aquino said he collected ‘commissions’ arising from contracts with Japanese suppliers. He also revealed that Balao collected these ‘commissions’ for Marcos when Balao headed the Reparations Commission Mission in Japan. Andres Genito Jr., president of Angenit Investment Corporation and former Batasang Pambansa assemblyman took over Balao’s duties when the former general and senator died in 1977.
It appears that Rodriguez was on the technical, ‘clean’ side of the Marcos ‘squeeze’ operations on Japanese contractors. His office coordinated, among others, the preparation of pre-bidding requirements and qualifications, and the acceptance and evaluation of bids from competing Japanese and (sometimes, Filipino) suppliers and contractors vying for Japanese government-funded projects. This coordination function was needed because particular projects were handled by distinct public agencies. For example, projects in the Bataan Export Processing Zone (BEPZ) were handled by the Export Processing Zone Authority (EZPA) while the National Power Corporation (NPC) had oversight over the Cagayan Valley Electrification Project.
In the ORP collection, one could find several letters of recommendation from the heads of such agencies and evaluation reports of these agencies’ technical committees and/or boards all addressed to Rodriguez. He would then recommend to President Marcos the award of particular contracts to specific suppliers. President Marcos would approve or disapprove Rodriguez’ recommendation through marginal notes on the same recommendation-memoranda. Most of the documents in the ORP set are of this nature. In a few instances, presidential approval was communicated by aides Jacobo Clave or Joaquin Venus Jr.
Rodrigues sometimes recommended the amendment of existing contracts. Requests and recommendations for the purchase of additional equipment received by Rodriguez from various government agencies served as bases for these contractual changes. The changes were then relayed by Rodriguez to the Overseas Economic Cooperation Fund (OECF), the new Japanese new aid agency, that had first to approve the changes before the new contracts can be implemented.
In the evaluation of bids submitted by Japanese contractors for a particular project, the administering public agency solicited the technical opinion of hired project consultants. These consultants included Filipino and Japanese experts and firms. Some of these evaluation reports are included in the ORP set. Also included in the collection are several offer/bid letters of Japanese suppliers addressed to Rodriguez as well as his letters to the latter. In his replies, Rodriguez asked for improvements in the offers such as the shortening of delivery periods, assumption of supervisory expenses, and the like.
The ORP included summary reports that provide a macro-picture of Japanese government-funded projects in the Philippines during the Marcos years. These documents include the following:
- The set of papers entitled “Approval of Awards of Contracts” lists the pertinent papers for several project contracts entered into by the governments of Japan and the Philippines from 1977 to 1986;
- A status report as of February 28, 1986 on Overseas Economic Cooperation Fund (OECF) project loans. The status report covered a total of 54 projects organized in 10 loan packages involving some 180.75 billion yen. Of this total, 36 projects were completed while the rest were ongoing; and
- An untitled set of papers offer detailed information on loan use including the list of contracts concluded, description of contracts, name of contractor, contract identity number, and contracted amount.
[Subject of next blog post: Baltazar Aquino Papers (BAP)]