BLOG WATCH, JUNE 1, 2012 (CRITICAL POINT BLOG) by H. GAMBOA (photo) - The following message was inspired from Mark Antony’s speech (from Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar) and modified to make it apropos on the aftermath of the conviction of Chief Justice Renato C. Corona.

Friends, Filipinos, countrymen, lend me your ears;

I come to bury Chief Justice Corona, not to praise him.

The evil that men do lives after them;

The good is oft interred with their bones;

So let it be with Corona. The noble Noynoy Aquino (through his spokesperson Abigail Valte)

Hath told you Corona was the public face of the things that ail the system:

If it were so, it was a grievous fault,

And grievously hath Corona answer'd it.

Here, under leave of Noynoy and the rest (of the Yellow force)--

For Noynoy is an honorable man;

So are they all, all honorable men--

Come I to speak in Corona’s funeral.

He was our friend, faithful and just to us:

But Noynoy says he was the public face of the things that ail the system;

And Noynoy is an honorable man.

Corona’s leadership hath brought Hacienda Luisita back to its rightful owners – the peasant farmers

The social justice that has been deprived of the peasant farmers for more than 45 years by Noynoy’s family was dispensed under Corona’s leadership:

Did this in Corona seem what ails the system?

When the people cried against the administration’s toll fee rate hikes plan for NLEX, SLEX and the Skyway, the Court under Corona’s leadership initially issued a temporary restraining order against the implementation of the hikes giving the commuting public a temporary respite from financial burden. When the Court lifted the TRO, it struck down provisions in the administration’s plans which were prejudicial to public interest:

The injustice that ails the system would not care about the plight of the public yet it was not so under Corona’s leadership:

Yet Noynoy says he was the public face of the things that ail the system;

And Noynoy is an honorable man.

You all did see that in Burgos vs Macapagal-Arroyo and in Roxas vs Macapagal-Arroyo

The Court under Corona’s leadership rejected the Philippine National Police’s and the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ extraordinary diligence that the Rule of Amparo required, thereby allowing the Commission on Human Rights to pursue justice against abusive military personnel

The Court under Corona’s leadership went against the military personnel who were supposed to be part of Macapagal-Arroyo’s abusive regime: was this something that ails the system?

Yet Noynoy says Corona was the public face of the things that ail the system;

And, sure, he is an honorable man.

I speak not to disprove what Noynoy spoke,

But here I am to speak what I do know.

There are people who appreciate Corona and the products under his leadership even at one point in their lives, not without cause:

What cause withholds you then, to mourn for him?

O judgment! Thou art fled to brutish beasts,

And men have lost their reason. Bear with me;

My heart is in the coffin there with Corona,

And I must pause till it come back to me.

So now let us ask the question, is Noynoy Aquino (through his spokeswoman Abigail Valte) correct to say that Corona is the public face of what ails the system?

Lope Robredillo (photo) offers a very good insight of why the system is so rotten to the core in the Philippines.

For Mr. Robredillo, it seems that the feudal nature of Philippine politics where the rich, the privileged and the elite vie among themselves to capture power, retain them for themselves, and expand them, is to blame. Robredillo states:

“To begin with, those who dominate national and even local politics belong to the privileged class—mostly big landlords, big businessmen, or their agents.

If these privileged people run for office, one is tempted to say that it is not primarily to serve the majority, though political advertisements may argue the contrary. In reality, they run in order to capture political power. Why so? The reason is that it is the single most important power in the country. Political power enables them to control people, pass laws and make policies that are to their advantage, even legitimize their control, and dominate others. Even more significant, political power, as we shall mention shortly, can be converted to economic power. Hardly would they pass a bill that would be contrary to their interest, although it would be beneficial for the many. That is why, for instance, land reform program has not been successful—that clashes with the stake of the landed gentry. Anti-dynasty provision is found in the constitution, but one can be almost sure that until the second coming of Christ, no enabling law would be enacted.”

Noynoy Cojuanco Aquino certainly comes from the privileged class of mostly landlords and big businessmen. Former Senator Richard Gordon notes that the Aquinos and the Cojuancos has had 209 years of Public Service yet the country is still plagued with corruption and poverty. He notes:

“The Aquino family has been in public office for a total of 209 years for the last 112 years from Servillano Aquino, who was a Representative of Samar to the Malolos Congress in 1898, to Benigno Q. Aguino, Sr., who was a congressman, senator, and vice president during the Japanese occupation, to Benigno Aquino, Jr., to Corazon Aquino, Jose "Peping" Cojuangco, to Jesli A. Lapus, to Margarita "Tingting" Cojuangco, to Agapito "Butz" Aquino, to Hermie Aquino, Gilbert Teodoro, Nikki Teodoro and Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III.

If this is the case, why then is there still corruption and poverty in our country? How is Tarlac? This is a fair question to ask.”

[PHOTO -Former Senator Richard Gordon]

Looking at Gordon’s point, it further illuminates Robredillo’s statement that:

“Power and privileged, however, are difficult to give up. It is within their inherent logic to perpetuate. Which is why, politics is dominated by the same families election after election. After the man is through with his term, the wife succeeds him, or his son. In some municipalities, it happens that once one finishes 3 consecutive terms, all of 9 years, as mayor, he runs for vice mayor in the hope that in the next election, he will run again for the post he was no longer qualified to hold. Political dynasty has its own logic for being.”

Noynoy’s mother, the late President Corazon Cojuanco Aquino, issued Proclamation 131 and Executive Order 229 to re-define the agrarian reform program which involved stock distribution option to circumvent compliance to the land reform act of transferring the Hacienda to the farmers. Wasn’t that clearly a move to the benefit of the Cojuanco-Aquino family rather than the benefit of the farmers? When Noynoy was Deputy House Speaker in Congress, the time when he was a strong ally of former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, the Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway project added the San Miguel/Luisita interchange thereby financially benefitting Noynoy’s family. Wasn’t this a sign of political power and influence yielding economic gain for a privileged family?

Another culprit that Robredillo pointed out was political turncoatism among the politicians. Robredillo avers that:

“Precisely because they represent almost no one else save their families and interests, it becomes logical why in Philippine politics, political parties are in practice devoid of meaning. In theory, parties are means through which ideology, vision and programs for running the government are made. In reality, parties are convenient structure that candidates use to capture power. One switches party affiliation as family or personal interest demands. Turncoatism is as easy as changing shoes.”

It is interesting to note that Noynoy was very much a part of Gloria Macapagal Arroyo’s coalition during the first half of her reign. In fact, Noynoy and the rest of his Yellow horde supported the 2001 powergrab of Gloria Macapagal Arroyo from the duly elected President Joseph Ejercito Estrada. Jesusa Bernardo points out that:

“Noynoy's little-spoken but nonetheless criminal deeds against the people did not end with the 2001 EDSA coup. During the 2004 elections, Noynoy allowed, or perhaps helped facilitate the electoral cheating committed against Fernando Poe Jr. in the conspiracy to fraudulently declare Arroyo as the winner of the presidential race. Noynoy as Tarlac congressman did nothing as stalwarts of his Liberal Party and others railroaded the congressional canvassing by refusing to open the contested COCs (certificates of canvass). As Daily Tribune's Ninez Cacho-Olivares notes, Noynoy Aquino "kept his mouth shut even in the face of massive electoral cheating," thus effectively preventing the Filipino public from knowing the real 2004 President-elect. …

The only time Filipinos got to know that Fernando Poe Jr. (FPJ) really won in the 2004 polls was when the Hello Garci wiretapped tapes came out, which primarily showed that Arroyo engaged in conversations with elections commissioner Virgilio Garcillano in connection with operations surrounding the May 11, 2004 polls. However, even when the Aquinos already learned about the tapes, Noynoy did not immediately withdraw support from the Illegitimate "President." In fact, he even voted AGAINST the airing of the tapes during the fifth Congressional hearing on the "Hello Garci" issue on June 30, 2005, the first anniversary of the surreptitious wee-hour-of-the-morning congressional proclamation of Arroyo as "President-elect." …

Noynoy even praised Arroyo's televised July 2, 2005 I am sorry" speech, claiming it's a "good start" for the controversial administration. Cory, for her part, even warned against resorting to extra-constitutional means to remove Arroyo, even as they themselves had four years earlier ousted Estrada and installed the Illegitimate in her place. …

The sequence of events that his defense implies also constitutes falsehood: Noynoy Aquino actually withdrew support for Gloria only in July 8, 2005–six days AFTER he voted against the airing of the Hello Garci tapes. (As to why the Aquinos ultimately dropped Arroyo, GMA-7's Stephanie Dychiu seems to point to the not-exactly favorable report of Task Force Luisita that came out that same month).”

Indeed, in the Philippines, it seems that politics is not anchored on principles and ideology but the demands of family and personal interest.

Another major culprit that Robredillo points out is patronage politics. A perfect example of how patronage politics is employed is through the dangling of the pork barrel by the executive to congress. Robredillo states:

“The executive does everything in its power to place the legislative under its influence. As we shall see below, this is done by patronage politics. One glaring example is how the executive dangles the pork barrel. Sure enough, if the judiciary and the legislative are weakened, the politician-executive has nothing to fear—all he wants, he gets. He can always hope that the law or its interpretation can bend. If the law sets limits on one’s term, for instance, somebody can be trusted to initiate a move to change the law. With branches of the government under one’s influence, one can always make the educated guess that impeachment complaints against him can never prosper. …

But many critics think that most notorious is the pork barrel, rebaptized in 2000 as Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF). The head of the executive department has of course the biggest share, but those of the senators and congressmen are not paltry. With pork barrel, one has great opportunities to beef up his wealth. Some observers say that almost half of the appropriated funds for projects ends up in the pocket of corrupt politicians in cahoots with businessmen. Hence, even if he does not receive his salary—and some flaunt to make sure that people know they do not—the corrupt official can still dip his finger into his PDAF. No wonder, many infrastructures are substandard, and are easily ruined. On the other hand, despite the corruption involved, people are still grateful to them for being allowed to work in the project. Politicians have their cake, and are able to eat it, too.”

If one recalls, Congressman Toby Tiangco in his testimony at the Impeachment Trial of Corona narrated how the administration tried to pressure Members of the House of Representatives to support impeachment moves against former Ombudsman Gutierrez and Chief Justice Corona. The policy is plain and simple. Give what the administration wants- you receive your pork barrel. Refuse the administration’s whims – you either get zero pork barrel or your pork barrel gets delayed.

While Renato Corona may have come from a well-to-do family, he was not as blue-blooded as the Philippine oligarchs such as the Cojuancos, the Lopezes, the Roxases and the Aranetas. He focused his entire career in the Law and not in politics. He was not a haciendero nor was he a turncoat against anyone he worked for and worked with. His principles stood firm and consistent regardless of where the political wind blew and regardless of his and his family’s interest. Instead of succumbing to the pressures exerted by the executive for the judiciary to toe the Palace line when the Department of Budget and Management tried to disregard the Supreme Court’s fiscal autonomy as guaranteed by the Constitution, Corona fought against the Executive’s move to protect the Court from the similar type of patronage politics that plague the legislative branch through pork barrel dangling.

So now we go back to the question: Is Noynoy Aquino (through his spokeswoman Abigail Valte) correct to say that Corona is the public face of what ails the system? Doesn’t the public face of what ails the system resemble a 50 year old balding haciendero dictator more than Renato Corona does? The general Filipino public does not think so for they still believe that Noynoy is an honorable man.

Heaven help the Philippines.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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