EDITORIALS FROM 'PHILNEWS.COM'

THE SELF-PERPETUATING ELITE OF THE PHILIPPINES 

Published 06/14/2014  --In an essay published in the July 1968 issue of the American magazine Foreign Affairs, a novice Philippine senator described his country as “a land in which a few are spectacularly rich while the masses remain abjectly poor. . . . a land consecrated to democracy but run by an entrenched plutocracy… a people whose ambitions run high, but whose fulfillment is low and mainly restricted to the self-perpetuating elite…a land of privilege and rank – a republic dedicated to equality but mired in an archaic system of caste.” The irony is that the author, Sen. Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino, Jr., was a member of the “entrenched plutocracy” and the “self-perpetuating elite”. He came from a “prosperous family of hacenderos” (Wikipedia), a family which gained prominence when his grandfather, Servillano Aquino, served as a general in Pres. Emilio Aguinaldo’s Revolutionary Army. His father, Benigno Aquino, Sr. was elected to the Philippine House of Representatives in 1919 before winning a Philippine Senate seat in 1928, the first of many Aquinos to be elected to the Senate that would include him, his son Noynoy, his siblings Butz and Tess, and his nephew, Bam. While Ninoy Aquino was the youngest Filipino politician ever to be elected mayor (at age 22), governor (at age 29) and senator (at age 34), he never got to be the country's youngest president because Marcos declared martial law in 1972 voiding the 1973 presidential elections where Aquino was favored to win. While Aquino never became president because of his assassination in 1983, his widow, Cory, and his son, Noynoy, were both elected to the country’s top post. Reflecting on Ninoy Aquino's 1968 essay, author Nelson Navarro posted a comment on Facebook about Aquino'sStatue of Ninoy Aquino influence: "He titillated us and our generation, and more than gave the impression that he would become the slayer of the evil system that created him and oppressed the nation beyond words, a case of ingratitude within the elite to liberate the nation." While Ninoy was not able to "slay the evil system", his widow, Cory Aquino, at least succeed in enacting an anti-dynasty provision in the 1987 Constitution (Article II Section 26): "The State shall guarantee equal access to opportunities for public service, and prohibit political dynasties as may be defined by law." Unfortunately, but predictably, Congress has never passed a law that would define "political dynasties". The "entrenched plutocracy" clearly realizes that they would be unable to perpetuate themselves in power if they ever passed such a law. * READ MORE...

(ALSO) EDITORIAL: WHY ALL THE FUZZ? WE KNEW THEY WERE CORRUPT ANYWAY! 

Published 06/14/2014  --So, finally the cat is out of the bag, so to speak. But we Pinoys should not be surprised at all. We all know how corrupt our country is. Even before former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo was accused of electoral sabotage and the misuse of public funds in 2011; even before Joseph “Erap” Estrada—an earlier president was convicted of plunder by the Sandiganbayan in 2007; even before Ferdinand Marcos, a president-turned-dictator, was booted out of the country along with his family and cronies twenty-eight years ago; we Pinoys knew they were corrupt. We also knew our Senators, congressmen, governors, mayors, Barangay chairmen, BIR and Customs officials, and our next-door neighbors were never totally on the up-and-up. And how did we know this? We knew it because we ourselves are as corrupt as all of them. The sad truth is that we Filipinos are just as flawed and just as weak of character as the politicians we elect into office. We are not very forthright, we lie and cheat…and take the easy way out whenever we can. We choose to make money the fast, and “sleazy way,” rather than the slow and honest way. We even hold in the highest esteem people who are wealthy and ostentatious…never-mind if we know they're crooks. So how can we Pinoys appear surprised that our lawmakers are now accused of receiving kickbacks from Janet Lim-Napoles and her criminal organization? Truth be told, if you pressed any “Juan-on-the-street” they would likely tell you that as far as they're concerned, all our politicians are corrupt. A few are just better at hiding their nefarious deeds than others. Thus all the protestations by Senators Jinggoy Estrada, Bong Revilla, Juan Ponce-Enrile, even Miriam Defensor Santiago, Chiz Escudero, et.al., blend into a cacophony of white noise that we Pinoys over the years have learned to simply tune out.  * READ MORE...

ALSO: HOW COULD THEY NOT HAVE KNOWN THAT THE NAPOLES NGOs WERE FAKE? 

Published 05/17/2014 --With Senator Bong Revilla already in police custody in Camp Crame and Senators Jinggoy Estrada Sen. Bong Revilla delivers a fiery privilege speech, denying he stole millions, wearing thousand-dollar Cartier-framed glasses (as pointed out by a Philnews forum contributor) and Juan Ponce Enrile set to join him any day now, people need to start asking tough questions going forward. The privilege speeches of the senators along with the histrionics that accompanied them are thankfully now over so we can all address this issue more objectively. And one question we find ourselves coming back to again and again is: How could these senators not have known that the Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) they were funding with millions of pesos from their Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) accounts did not really exist? Did they ever pay a visit to the offices of those NGOs? Organizations with names that tugged at one's heartstrings like: the Kabuhayan at Kalusugan Alay sa Masa Foundation; the Gabay at Pag-Asa ng Masa Foundation; and the Kasangga sa Magandang Bukas Foundation. It turns out these and hundreds more like them existed only on paper. They had no physical offices, no actual staff, and no ongoing projects. * READ MORE...

ALSO: PHL LEGISLATORS IMPLICATED IN THE NAPOLES PDAF SCAM FACE DEFINITE JAIL TIME--MAYBE

Published 06/3/2014 --In the United States former four-star General and until recently Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric Shinseki was forced to resign as head of the VA by the ongoing healthcare scandal that has enveloped that agency. While one can safely assume that Shinseki was not involved in the actually transgressions being investigated, the fact that he headed the agency meant he had command responsibility over its entire staff. And their wrongful acts, whether he knew about them or not, cost him his job. That is the way things work in properly functioning democracies. In the Philippines however, things tend to get a little unusual. Case in point: the scandal involving senators and congressmen involved in the Janet Lim-Napoles Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) scam. PDAF as described in Wikipedia "is a discretionary fund in the Philippines available to members of Congress. Originally established as the Countrywide Development Fund (CDF) in 1990, it is designed to allow legislators to fund small-scale infrastructure or community projects which fell outside the scope of the national infrastructure program, which was often restricted to large infrastructure items." These are funds, usually in the millions of pesos, given to legislators on a yearly basis to use as they see fit (with certain guidelines) for the benefit of their constituents. So now the word "fiduciary" comes into play. Again, Wikipedia defines it as "A legal or ethical relationship of trust between two or more parties. Typically, a fiduciary prudently takes care of money for another person." Thus whether stated or not, when the Filipino people, through their government, hand over to a senator or congressman millions of pesos as their PDAF allotment for the year, those legislators incur a fiduciary obligation to protect those funds, account for every last centavo of it, and put it to the best use possible for their constituents. * READ MORE...


READ FULL REPORTS HERE:

The Self-Perpetuating Elite of the Philippines

[PHILNEWS.COM is a news portal launched in 1996 and based both in California, USA and Matro Manila, Philippines.]

MANILA, JULY 14, 2014 (philnews.com) In an essay published in the July 1968 issue of the American magazine Foreign Affairs, a novice Philippine senator described his country as “a land in which a few are spectacularly rich while the masses remain abjectly poor. . . . a land consecrated to democracy but run by an entrenched plutocracy… a people whose ambitions run high, but whose fulfillment is low and mainly restricted to the self-perpetuating elite…a land of privilege and rank – a republic dedicated to equality but mired in an archaic system of caste.” LINK

The irony is that the author, Sen. Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino, Jr., was a member of the “entrenched plutocracy” and the “self-perpetuating elite”.

He came from a “prosperous family of hacenderos” (Wikipedia), a family which gained prominence when his grandfather, Servillano Aquino, served as a general in Pres. Emilio Aguinaldo’s Revolutionary Army. His father, Benigno Aquino, Sr. was elected to the Philippine House of Representatives in 1919 before winning a Philippine Senate seat in 1928, the first of many Aquinos to be elected to the Senate that would include him, his son Noynoy, his siblings Butz and Tess, and his nephew, Bam.

While Ninoy Aquino was the youngest Filipino politician ever to be elected mayor (at age 22), governor (at age 29) and senator (at age 34), he never got to be the country's youngest president because Marcos declared martial law in 1972 voiding the 1973 presidential elections where Aquino was favored to win.

While Aquino never became president because of his assassination in 1983, his widow, Cory, and his son, Noynoy, were both elected to the country’s top post.


Statue of Ninoy Aquino

Reflecting on Ninoy Aquino's 1968 essay, author Nelson Navarro posted a comment on Facebook about Aquino's influence: "He titillated us and our generation, and more than gave the impression that he would become the slayer of the evil system that created him and oppressed the nation beyond words, a case of ingratitude within the elite to liberate the nation."

While Ninoy was not able to "slay the evil system", his widow, Cory Aquino, at least succeed in enacting an anti-dynasty provision in the 1987 Constitution (Article II Section 26): "The State shall guarantee equal access to opportunities for public service, and prohibit political dynasties as may be defined by law."

Unfortunately, but predictably, Congress has never passed a law that would define "political dynasties".

The "entrenched plutocracy" clearly realizes that they would be unable to perpetuate themselves in power if they ever passed such a law.

ORIGIN OF THE "S.P.E."

So how did the “self-perpetuating elite” of the Philippines come to be?

The political dynasty system likely began sometime in the third century of Spanish rule when the colonizers began appointing the most prominent local Ilustrados in each town and province as gobernadorcillos or alcaldes to govern the local municipalities and collect taxes from the people. With this political power, the new local elite sought to keep it all within the family.

When the Americans colonized the Philippines at the turn of the 20th century, they continued the Spanish colonial practice and appointed local Ilustrados to political positions as well.

Blogger Joe Rivera wrote in Uncomplicated Mind: “When the U.S. colonized the Philippines at the turn of the 20th century, they took these Ilustrados under their wings and trained them for the practical affairs of popular government. The first American civil governor of the islands, William Howard Taft, believed that the rudiments of self-government would easily be transferable to these Ilustrados, the oligarchic elite, because of their social and economic status.”

Rivera concluded that “it was the fault of the American colonizers that spawned the political dynasties we have now.”

“Taft’s idea of letting society’s affluent members constitute the Philippine Assembly in 1907 and Congress in the ensuing years," Rivera wrote, "resulted in the formation and circulation of elites that perpetuate their hold on political offices. A truly representative democracy failed to flourish, shattering the hopes that the country would now be able to draw upon all classes in Philippine society in electing public officials.”


Jimmy Napoles, Bong Revilla Jr., Lani Marcado, Janet Lim Napoles

As Carlos Conde further noted in his New York Times article, Family dynasties bind politics in the Philippines, (May 11, 2007), “political dynasties were an offshoot of the country's colonial experience, in which the Filipino elite was nurtured by Spanish and American colonizers. Even after the country gained independence, in 1946, the largely feudal system persisted, as landed Filipino families sought to protect their interests by occupying public offices.”

Conde estimates that there are 250 political families nationwide, "with at least one in every province, occupying positions in all levels of the bureaucracy... Of the 265 members of Congress, 160 belong to these clans.” According to one estimate, 40 percent of provincial congressmen and governors are related, and 50 percent of both are related to previous holders of those offices.

"These are the same families who belong to the country's economic elite, some of them acting as rule makers or patrons of politicians who conspire together to amass greater economic power," said Roberto Tuazon, director of the Center for People Empowerment in Governance.

NON-ILUSTRADO ELITE

But even when a political figure with no ties to the traditional Ilustrado elite emerges, he quickly develops the impulse to amass and perpetuate political power in his family.

One such example is Joseph Ejercito who was born to a middle class family in Tondo, Manila. After he was expelled from the elite Ateneo University, he became a movie actor under the screen name, “Joseph Estrada”. He then parlayed his “Asiong Salonga” fame as an actor to be elected mayor of San Juan, a post from which he then ran for, and was elected, senator, vice-president and president in 1998.

After Estrada was removed from office in 2001 by “People Power II”, his first wife, Dr. Loi Ejercito, was elected to the senate, followed by one son, Jinggoy, and yet another son, J.V. Ejercito. His nephew, ER Ejercito (real name George Estregan, Jr.) was elected Laguna governor in 2010 (although he has since been removed from office for "overspending"). Estrada's second wife, Guia Gomez, the mother of Sen. J.V. Ejercito, is now the mayor of San Juan. Even after a plunder conviction and a sentence of life imprisonment, "Erap" Estrada managed somehow to be elected mayor of Manila in 2013.

Like Estrada, Vice-President Jejomar “Jojo” Binay also did not descend from the Ilustrado elite. Orphaned at nine years old, Binay was adopted by his uncle, Ponciano, a man of modest means. Binay studied at regular local schools before acquiring a law degree from the University of the Philippines. As a lawyer, Binay volunteered to provide free legal assistance to victims of human rights abuses during the Marcos dictatorship.


CORY AQUINO AND BINAY-- A PHOTO FROM A PRESS RELEASE, AUGUST, 1, 2009 REF: JOEY SALGADO

Because he was an ardent supporter of Cory Aquino in the 1986 People Power Uprising, Binay (later known as “Rambotito”) was rewarded with an appointment as mayor of Makati in 1986. He was elected in his own right in 1988, then reelected in 1992. In 1995, when term limits required him to relinquish the mayorship, he passed it on to his wife, Elenita, before reclaiming it again in 1998. When he ran for and was elected Vice President in 2010, he passed the post over to his son, Jejomar Erwin “JunJun” Binay, Jr. One daughter, Mar-Len “Abigail” Binay is a House member representing Makati while another daughter, Nancy, was elected to the Senate in 2013 despite having absolutely no prior job experience other than as her father’s “executive assistant”.

Estrada and Binay are allies in the UNA Party which should really stand for "United Nepotists Alliance."

Conde observed that members of dynasties have “developed a sense of entitlement regarding public positions". This "entitlement" mentality was evident in Makati Mayor JunJun Binay’s November 2013 order to arrest three Dasmarinas Village security guards for not allowing his convoy to pass through a particular village gate that was closed after 10:00 PM. There was another gate, a few blocks, away that the convoy could use. Their crime was not recognizing that the mayor of Makati is not subject to the same rules that ordinary citizens are required to follow. VIDEO LINK

What is most unfortunate, Conde laments, is that "many ordinary Filipinos accept the (entitlement) arrangement as inevitable, which makes it difficult to change the situation.”

Anthropologist Brian Fegan asserts in his book, "An Anarchy of Families: State and Family in the Philippines", that Filipinos tend not to vote according to class, ethnicity, religion or even ideology. They vote for family which has become "the most enduring political unit and the one into which, failing some wider principle of participation, all other units dissolve."


Janet Lim Napoles and Bong Revilla Jr., with Mr. and Mrs. Jinggoy Estrada

Author James Fallows compared this concept of family with that of "Mafia families portrayed in The Godfather: total devotion to those within the circle, total war on those outside."

The system of family clan dominance is a vicious cycle, Political Science Prof. Julio Teehankee asserts, because it "prevents the expansion of the base of aspirants and candidates for representation.” The result, he added, is a political system dominated by patronage, corruption, violence, and fraud.

CLAN DOMINANCE

The dominance of the family clans has prevented the flowering of democracy in the Philippines.

"Continuing clan dominance is a product of the seemingly immutable and unequal socioeconomic structure, as well as the failure to develop a truly democratic electoral and party system," said Prof. Teehankee (quoted by Conde).

The system is a vicious cycle, one that prevents the expansion of the base of aspirants and candidates for representation, Teehankee said. The result, he added, is a political system dominated by patronage, corruption, violence, and fraud.

This is the political system that has produced fixers like Janet Lim Napoles who conspired with the dynasts in Congress to steal taxpayer money intended to provide the people with much needed services and infrastructure improvements.

Among the senators disclosed by Napoles as having received billions of pesos of kickbacks from her pork barrel scams are past and present senators including: Juan Ponce-Enrile, Jinggoy Estrada, Bong Revilla, Gringo Honasan, Loren Legarda, Loi Ejercito, Vic Sotto, Rodolfo Biazon, Tessie Aquino-Oreta, Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, Jr., Manny Villar, Chiz Escudero, Cynthia Villar, Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel, Jr., Aquilino “Nene” Pimentel Sr., Alan Peter Cayetano and Lito Lapid.

Not all the "self-perpetuating elite" of the Philippines conspired with Napoles but all those who did were certainly certified members of the “self-perpetuating elite.” Published 06/14/2014

EDITORIAL: WHY ALL THE FUZZ? WE KNEW THEY WERE CORRUPT ANYWAY!

Why All the Fuss? We Knew They were Corrupt Anyway!

So, finally the cat is out of the bag, so to speak. But we Pinoys should not be surprised at all. We all know how corrupt our country is. Even before former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo was accused of electoral sabotage and the misuse of public funds in 2011; even before Joseph “Erap” Estrada—an earlier president was convicted of plunder by the Sandiganbayan in 2007; even before Ferdinand Marcos, a president-turned-dictator, was booted out of the country along with his family and cronies twenty-eight years ago; we Pinoys knew they were corrupt. We also knew our Senators, congressmen, governors, mayors, Barangay chairmen, BIR and Customs officials, and our next-door neighbors were never totally on the up-and-up. And how did we know this? We knew it because we ourselves are as corrupt as all of them.

The sad truth is that we Filipinos are just as flawed and just as weak of character as the politicians we elect into office. We are not very forthright, we lie and cheat…and take the easy way out whenever we can. We choose to make money the fast, and “sleazy way,” rather than the slow and honest way. We even hold in the highest esteem people who are wealthy and ostentatious…never-mind if we know they're crooks.

So how can we Pinoys appear surprised that our lawmakers are now accused of receiving kickbacks from Janet Lim-Napoles and her criminal organization? Truth be told, if you pressed any “Juan-on-the-street” they would likely tell you that as far as they're concerned, all our politicians are corrupt. A few are just better at hiding their nefarious deeds than others.

Thus all the protestations by Senators Jinggoy Estrada, Bong Revilla, Juan Ponce-Enrile, even Miriam Defensor Santiago, Chiz Escudero, et.al., blend into a cacophony of white noise that we Pinoys over the years have learned to simply tune out.

* And then we have the Aquino administration that is content to simply spin its wheels until the 2016 election rolls around. They're happy basking in the glory of pretending to go after big-time crooks in government. But the stark reality is that in the end, they will likely achieve next to nothing except pass on already “cold” cases to the next administration—cases that will likely end in acquittals. So, nothing really changes. President Benigno Aquino III is simply raising the hopes of Pollyannaish Filipinos who think that real change might actually happen in their lifetimes.

We saw something similar after the EDSA revolution when Filipinos were euphoric at having booted-out Marcos and his cronies, only to wake up to the sad reality that today the Marcoses and their cronies are all back and as rich and as powerful as ever. Filipinos just have to accept the fact that in the Philippines, the more things change, the more they stay the same. And the Philippines will remain in this sad constant forever. Published 05/17/2014

HOW COULD THEY NOT HAVE KNOWN THAT THE NAPOLES NGOs WERE FAKE?

With Senator Bong Revilla already in police custody in Camp Crame and Senators Jinggoy Estrada Sen. Bong Revilla delivers a fiery privilege speech, denying he stole millions, wearing thousand-dollar Cartier-framed glasses (as pointed out by a Philnews forum contributor) and Juan Ponce Enrile set to join him any day now, people need to start asking tough questions going forward. The privilege speeches of the senators along with the histrionics that accompanied them are thankfully now over so we can all address this issue more objectively.

And one question we find ourselves coming back to again and again is: How could these senators not have known that the Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) they were funding with millions of pesos from their Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) accounts did not really exist? Did they ever pay a visit to the offices of those NGOs?

Organizations with names that tugged at one's heartstrings like: the Kabuhayan at Kalusugan Alay sa Masa Foundation; the Gabay at Pag-Asa ng Masa Foundation; and the Kasangga sa Magandang Bukas Foundation.

It turns out these and hundreds more like them existed only on paper. They had no physical offices, no actual staff, and no ongoing projects.


Sen. Jinggoy Estrada in his privilege speech insists "hindi ako magnanakaw" (I am not a thief)

* Again how could these senators not have known this?

Based on the statements of some individuals who testified during senate hearings on the matter, the senators in question seemed eager to get their funds disbursed as quickly as possible.

Dennis Cunanan, who served as director general of the Technology Resource Center (TRC), told the Senate blue ribbon committee that he was personally admonished by Revilla and Estrada for "not expediting the processing of their PDAF-funded projects."

So we know these funds were important to the senators. But why is it they never bothered to fully vet the organizations they were pouring millions into? At the very least, this is criminal negligence on their part. The funds after all are the Filipino people's money.

And the average Filipino can in no-way be classified as rich—they need all the help they can get. So are we saying then that for years these senators dumped millions of pesos that poor and destitute Filipinos so desperately needed into a "black hole" because they never bothered to do any "due diligence" and make sure that the funds they were entrusted with were used properly? If that is indeed the case, then the sheer stupidity of these supposedly intelligent senators is mind-blowing!


Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile argues that he is too old and frail to be sent to jail. Enrile turned 90 this past February 14th

However, if the court concludes that these senators knew all along that the NGOs were fake but kept quiet about it because they were in on the scam and were getting millions in kickbacks, then life in prison is too mild a punishment for them. They ought to be hanged Iran-style, lifted up from a big construction crane high above for everyone see.

Because they were entrusted with millions of pesos to help the indigent and the downtrodden, but instead they kept it for themselves. That is unforgivable. Published 06/21/2014

PHL LEGISLATORS IMPLICATED IN THE NAPOLES PDAF SCAM FACE DEFINITE JAIL TIME--MAYBE

In the United States former four-star General and until recently Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric Shinseki was forced to resign as head of the VA by the ongoing healthcare scandal that has enveloped that agency.

While one can safely assume that Shinseki was not involved in the actually transgressions being investigated, the fact that he headed the agency meant he had command responsibility over its entire staff. And their wrongful acts, whether he knew about them or not, cost him his job. That is the way things work in properly functioning democracies. In the Philippines however, things tend to get a little unusual.

Case in point: the scandal involving senators and congressmen involved in the Janet Lim-Napoles Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) scam. PDAF as described in Wikipedia "is a discretionary fund in the Philippines available to members of Congress. Originally established as the Countrywide Development Fund (CDF) in 1990, it is designed to allow legislators to fund small-scale infrastructure or community projects which fell outside the scope of the national infrastructure program, which was often restricted to large infrastructure items."

These are funds, usually in the millions of pesos, given to legislators on a yearly basis to use as they see fit (with certain guidelines) for the benefit of their constituents.

So now the word "fiduciary" comes into play. Again, Wikipedia defines it as "A legal or ethical relationship of trust between two or more parties. Typically, a fiduciary prudently takes care of money for another person."

Thus whether stated or not, when the Filipino people, through their government, hand over to a senator or congressman millions of pesos as their PDAF allotment for the year, those legislators incur a fiduciary obligation to protect those funds, account for every last centavo of it, and put it to the best use possible for their constituents.

* For example, when a senator or congressman decides to allot portion of his or her PDAF fund to a Non-governmental Organization (NGO), that legislator has a fiduciary obligation to make sure that the NGO he or she is funding is a legitimate going concern, and operating as stated. That senator or congressman must also make sure that the funds he or she is giving to the NGO will be used exactly as intended. The fact that legislators have other pressing matters to attend to is not an excuse to be careless or casual with their PDAF disbursements. Everything down to the last centavo must be spent wisely and be properly accounted for.

So when senators and congressmen who now find themselves on the infamous Napoles list proclaim their innocence, Filipinos need to start asking them pointed questions.

For example: if they claim that they their signatures were forged and they were thus unaware that millions of pesos from their PDAF account had been misallocated; then people should ask if these legislators ever balanced their PDAF accounts.

Anyone with a checkbook knows how to do this.

So when discrepancies are discovered, those discrepancies can be immediately investigated. The question then becomes, have any of these senators and congressmen in the Napoles list ever initiated an investigation regarding discrepancies they discovered in their PDAF accounts?

If no investigations were initiated, then the public can only assume one of two things: a) legislators never found any discrepancies in their PDAF account; or b) legislators never bothered to balance their PDAF account and thus have no idea how much should or shouldn't be in it.

Either way legislators face serious jail-time. If legislators found no discrepancies then, they can be seen as co-conspirators of Napoles and her fake NGOs, keeping silent because of the hefty kickbacks they receive from her. If the legislators argue that they were unaware the NGOs were fake, then they can in turn be held criminally negligent for not doing their due diligence when selecting an NGO to fund.

If on the other hand legislators claim they never balanced their PDAF account and thus have no idea how much should be in it, then they can again be held criminally negligent for shirking their fiduciary responsibility to properly care for the people's money entrusted to them.

No matter how you look at it, jail time seems a certainty for those senators and congressmen implicated in the Napoles PDAF Scam.

But just when one begins conjuring up visions of those politicos behind bars, reality hits them in the face when they realize they're talking about the Philippines after all—a magical place were anything and everything is possible.

Remember the old Lovin' Spoonful song titled "Do You Believe in Magic?" If you do, then welcome to the Philippines, this country is just right for you. So no one should be surprised if like Harry Houdini those senators and congressmen manage to slip through all the chains and locks to avoid what should be certain incarceration, and end up more powerful than ever...and laughing all the way to the bank. This is the Philippines after all. Magic and miracles are an everyday occurrence here. Published 06/3/2014

(Send comments to Rodel50@gmail.com or mail them to the Law Offices of Rodel Rodis at 2429 Ocean Avenue, San Francisco, CA 94127 or call 415.334.7800). [WITH THANKS TO  PHILNEWS.COM -PHNO.]


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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