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NEITHER EDSA 1 NOR TAHRIR SQUARE 

POSTED AUGUST 21, 2013 --During the last leg of our trip last Thursday in picturesque Quebec’s Eastern Townships, we stopped at Domaine des Côtes d'Ardoise (photo), the first winery in Dunham and the oldest in Quebec. It’s not just the wine that enchanted us to the place but the collision of art, nature and viticulture on the vineyards and the gardens. The winery features a vast collection of sculptures in various media from bronze to stone to ironworks that were scattered along the various narrow footpaths winding round the vineyard. It was the second stop in our scenic tour of Quebec’s Eastern Townships, right after we had picked baskets of blueberries from the Bleuetière Benoît farm in Dunham. It was my wife Patty’s reunion with her younger sisters, Mel, a practising doctor in Tin Can Bay, Australia, and Cindy, the youngest and a nurse in New Jersey. Accompanying Mel to her first trip to North America was her Australian partner Warwick, while Cindy came along with her American husband Ken, who had visited us in Toronto more than a couple of times. Also with us were our daughter Isobel who works in Montreal and her boyfriend, Jonathan, a French-Canadian from Levi and Drummondville, Quebec, both of whom served as our tireless guides and translators in the largely French-speaking townships. Disconnected from Facebook, the respite offered me some needed break from my rambunctious social and political forum which was smouldering before I left on the hot issue of the corruptive effect of the pork barrel system in the Philippines.

We’ve had our own share of corruption in Canadian politics, too. Newspapers and the social media here in these parts are likewise buzzing with daily opinions and blogs condemning corruption and scandals in government. But unlike politicians in the Philippines and other foreign governments, our politicians in Canada have the decency and grace to step down and resign once their corruption has been exposed. This past June, Montreal Mayor Michael Applebaum quit amid charges of fraud, conspiracy, breach of trust and municipal corruption. It was the latest scandal in the so-called “City of Saints.” Applebaum’s predecessor also resigned last year after evidence of staff wrongdoing on his watch surfaced in a province-wide corruption inquiry. A politician or government official resigning because of charges of corruption would never happen in the Philippines. Former presidents Ferdinand Marcos, Joseph Estrada and Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, and now Janet Napoles, the “queen of pork barrel” who is still at large, never quit until some higher power deposed them. The dictator Marcos plundered the nation’s economy not only by showering his supporters in Congress with pork-barrel money but also by rewarding his cronies with licenses and grants to freely run and operate businesses in the country while he pocketed millions of dollars from foreign loans. Whatever happened to the ill-gotten wealth that the Marcos family accumulated during his years of presidency? His wife, Imelda, and children Imee and Bongbong are still around, all deeply entrenched in political power as if they have not committed wrongdoings against the Filipino people.

Joseph Estrada, the “eternal” mayor, is back as Manila’s newly elected head of city government. His election was never tarnished by charges of plunder and corruption while he was president for which he was removed from office by a revival of the EDSA people power movement. In fact, Erap finished second to Noynoy Aquino during the last presidential elections, proving that corruption in government is an acceptable part of the Philippine political landscape. Noynoy Aquino’s predecessor, Gloria Arroyo, remains under house arrest and grounded in a hospital, merely getting a slap on the wrist considering the magnitude of Arroyo’s alleged corruption in government.

The most Noynoy Aquino could accomplish to showcase his “matuwid na daan” (straight path) mantra of government was to impeach Supreme Court Chief Justice Renato Corona, not on charges of corruption, but for his failure to comply with the constitutional obligation to file his statement of assets and liabilities net worth (SALN). The current president’s campaign against corruption is in fact a charade that masks his own government’s involvement in wrongdoings, if not by his family, but by his closest and loyal political allies. Through the pork-barrel system, the president is able to reward those who toe his line and punish those who go against his wishes. This is exactly the main rationale for pork-barrel politics. It is a system of largesse, a practice institutionalized by the Americans during their colonial administration of the Philippines. It is pork to us while the Americans call it earmarks. It is the grease that oils and runs the political system. * CONTINUE READING...

ALSO: Debasing our democracy 

APRIL 15, 2014 --PHOTO: Of the total party-list members of Congress, all but five are millionaires, raising the question whether they represent the marginalized and underrepresented sectors of the country. No matter all the previous misgivings about her appointment, Philippine Supreme Court Chief Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno has got it right, at least this time. Chief Justice Sereno dissented with the majority decision of the high court that the party-list system need not represent marginalized and underrepresented sectors. Recall that under the 1987 Philippine Constitution, the party-list system was envisaged by the framers to be a “tool for social justice” that will allow the poor to have a voice in Congress by allotting 20 percent of the seats for the marginalized and underrepresented.

The underlying purpose of the party-list system is to promote proportional representation in the election of representatives to the House of Representatives. This was clearly the mandate echoed in RA 7941 or the Party-List System Act that was enacted in 1995 as the enabling legislation for the implementation of the constitutional provision for a system of proportional representation. So much of the debate about the party-list system has been focused on the requirement that parties or groups registered under the system must represent the marginalized and underrepresented. But in doing away with this requirement, the Supreme Court has in effect undermined the original intent of the Constitution and further entrenched the free-for-all political process (first-past-the-post system) that has hitherto favoured the elite and the wealthy. The Supreme Court has effectively bastardized the party-list system since it is now open to all national, regional and sectoral parties and organizations, making it easier for millionaires and traditional politicians to use the party-list system to get elected. As a result, the underrepresented, because they cannot compete with the resources of the rich and powerful political parties, becomes even more marginalized than ever. The party-list system is now virtually exposed as a mere lip service to the goal of representative democracy. Consider too, that with 20 percent of congressional seats reserved for party-list members, this system of representation is hardly proportional to the total votes cast, rendering it unimaginable for a disunited and disorganized number of party-list representatives to possibly override the dominant interests of the major political parties to pass legislation for the benefit of the marginalized.

Section 2 of the Party-List System Act declares: “The State shall promote proportional representation in the election of representatives to the House of Representatives through a party-list system of registered national, regional and sectoral parties or organizations or coalitions thereof, which will enable Filipino citizens belonging to the marginalized and underrepresented sectors, organizations and parties, and who lack well-defined political constituencies but who could contribute to the formulation and enactment of appropriate legislation that will benefit the nation as a whole, to become members of the House of Representatives. Towards this end, the State shall develop and guarantee a full, free and open party system in order to attain the broadest possible representation of party, sectoral or group interests in the House of Representatives by enhancing their chances to compete for and win seats in the legislature, and shall provide the simplest scheme possible.” * READ MORE...

ALSO: Trouble in the diaspora

JUNE 17 --PHOTO: A sharp rise in the foreign population of Singapore has ratcheted up racial tensions. A malicious and hideous blog that goes by the title of Blood Stained Singapore has become the bane of the Filipino diaspora in the prosperous and sovereign city-state and island nation in Southeast Asia. Catching fire in blogger traffic, the sensationalist post has been viewed 529,301 times and shared in social media platforms. The original blog post dated May 24 encourages Singaporeans to show displeasure and intolerance for Filipinos. For a while it has appeared to be taken down, but was republished on Monday, June 16. The aforementioned Singapore blogger has proposed a five-point guide for Singaporeans to show they do not tolerate the presence of Filipinos whom he has described as having infested the island nation. Here are the five ways the blogger recommended showing displeasure to Filipinos:
1. When you encounter a Pinoy waiter/waitress or customer service officer, reject and ask for a replacement by telling this: “Could you kindly ask a Singaporean staff to speak to me? Your standard of English – there is much left to be desired.” If the idiot continues rambling on, tell him/her with a smile: “Your English sucks, capisce? Get the fuck out of my uncaring face and find me someone else, pronto.”
2. When the Peenoise become rowdy or do not deserve basic social decorum, a little “nudge” in the right direction won’t harm. Just make it look accidental. Pump your fist in victory later when they are out of your sight. We understand sometimes they just don’t get it, so a little more force must be employed. Like what this unsung hero did: “This morning at Bishan Circle Line MRT I pushed a Pinoy out of the train before door closes.”
3. When dining at Jollibee or any other Filipino themed restaurant, toss food into your mouth, chew thoroughly, and then spit it out. Bite another morsel and repeat. Do this till your plate is a masterpiece of regurgitated nastiness. Ask for the bill (pay in cash), scribble “Pinoy food fucking tastes like shit” on the receipt and remember to leave that piece of paper behind.
4. Never render help when Filipinos are involved in serious traffic accidents. Do not call the ambulance. But you have our permission to take photographs so they can be tweeted later with the caption: Hopefully another Pinoy has breathed his last on the little red dot. RIP.NOT.
5. Pray for a flood of biblical proportions to descend upon Orchard Road on 8 June (Filipinos have cancelled a parade to celebrate Philippine Independence Day because of public order and safety concerns). Go to the nearest church and pray. Pray hard for divine intervention aloud. Make sure God (and the Pinoy sitting next to you on the same bench) hears every word.
6. The Singapore blogger added #6 to his anti-Filipino guide as a bonus point. If you see a Pinoy cashier at NTUC, Cold Storage or Giant, throw a can of Baygon into your shopping before approaching him/her to make payment. When the cashier picks up the insecticide spray ready to do a barcode scan, ask him/her wryly: “Is this effective against Filipinos? Sorry, I meant cockroaches.”  * READ MORE...

ALSO: Mad against dynasties

We have been unbelievably seduced by democracy’s self-fulfilling prophecy that it will always prevail in the end. That during times of crisis, the electoral process will measure up to our expectations and deliver the kind of men and women who will lead us to democracy’s promised land. This has always been the public perception manufactured by government and those in power every election year. For so long we have counted on democracy to check the excesses of our political process, and it seems the long years of exposure have made us numb, almost like zombies who would do and think(?) whatever is told them. Why vote when it counts for nothing? Or to the seasoned cynic, why vote when your vote will not be counted? Maybe it will, but not for your chosen candidate but added to the votes in favour of another.

This is the Filipino state-of-the-art counting of votes: “dagdag-bawas” or add-substract. Whatever new election technology the Commission on Elections (Comelec) has, there’s always a counter technology to subvert it, a product of Filipino ingenuity. Article 2, Section 26 of the Philippine Constitution provides: The State shall guarantee equal access to public service and prohibit political dynasty as may be defined by law. We have been for so long focused on the wrong problem. It’s not counting the votes that matters but the kind of people to choose from. But in the final analysis, the deficiency could also be our fault for why after all do we keep voting for the same families and their relatives? Or why are we easily persuaded by the glamour and fame from acting or boxing in the ring that it can translate to serious political responsibility? Or why do we thumb down our noses on people who honestly care for the poor, those whose sterling record in serving the people is an exemplar for the kind we must elect in office?

Wealth and power determine the outcome of the electoral process. Political dynasties have accumulated wealth and power over a long period of time. Elections are important, not so much for the masses, but mostly for these families to keep their stranglehold on political power. As a result, our democracy is flawed, not a truly representative democracy. If the government is really serious in reforming the electoral process so that democracy works and becomes more truly representative, the solution is not in simply automating election results but in retrofitting our mindset with radical ideas of reform and change. We can be experts in counting beans or even the stars in the sky, but we need to see the beans as being nutritious supplements or the stars lighting the darkness above us. Even before we can ensure that counting votes is quick and accurate, the people must be ensured that the candidates are not only qualified but will serve the public with integrity and honesty. No election apparatus can give this assurance; thus, any improvements in the electoral process must come from the people’s elected representatives to enact the necessary and relevant legislation. But here’s the catch. The real problem looms even bigger because our representatives in Congress will naturally refuse to make laws that run counter to their interests. After their election, victorious candidates tend to suffer from loss of memory, forgetting the people who elected them and the promises they made. Such is the nature of the human condition. That is why we need to be forever vigilant even if we have to launch a kind of fugitive democracy, or what is sometimes referred to as democracy without politics. * READ MORE...

ALSO: Looking bad

As if allegations of being the mentor to the pork barrel queen are not enough to make him look bad, news of Budget Secretary Florencio Abad’s total number of 11 family members in government can’t even budge him from his enviable position of the President’s closest and most trusted ally. Now, if you’re counting, that’s about four times the sound of bad resonated in one full sentence. Janet Napoles, the alleged pork barrel queen, has accused Mr. Abad as the one who taught her how to divert funds from the pork barrel allocated to members of Congress. Benhur Luy, the other whistleblower, also implicated Mr. Abad although the latter’s name was erased from his list. But no matter how loud the protestations are, President Aquino appears impervious and obdurate in his belief that there is no probable cause his most trusted cabinet secretary had committed a crime.

Even if the whistleblowers Janet Napoles and Benhur Luy also pointed to Mr. Abad’s direct involvement in the 10-billion-peso pork barrel scandal, similar to the allegations that form the basis of the charges against Senators Juan Ponce Enrile, Jinggoy Estrada and Ramon Revilla Jr. The Philippine system of justice looks not just laughable but just as bad and as duplicitous as the moral standards that dictate the President’s convenient set of values. According to news reports, there are 11 relatives of Mr. Abad currently holding positions in the government, which include his wife Henedina, currently a representative in Congress for the province of Batanes and vice chair of the powerful House Appropriations Committee; daughter Julia, head of the Presidential Management Staff; son Luis, chief of staff of Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima, as well as four nephews, one niece, and two first cousins occupying various government posts. By all appearances, this is nepotism on a grand scale. It is as if the Abad family now owns a large portion of the government, like it is their own plantation or fiefdom. * READ MORE...


READ FULL REPORTS HERE:

Neither EDSA I nor Tahrir Square


Bienvenue dans les Cantons-de-l'Est

MANILA, JULY 14, 2014 (uncomplicatedmind.com) POSTED AUGUST 21, 2013 - During the last leg of our trip last Thursday in picturesque Quebec’s Eastern Townships, we stopped at Domaine des Côtes d'Ardoise, the first winery in Dunham and the oldest in Quebec.

It’s not just the wine that enchanted us to the place but the collision of art, nature and viticulture on the vineyards and the gardens. The winery features a vast collection of sculptures in various media from bronze to stone to ironworks that were scattered along the various narrow footpaths winding round the vineyard.

It was the second stop in our scenic tour of Quebec’s Eastern Townships, right after we had picked baskets of blueberries from the Bleuetière Benoît farm in Dunham.

It was my wife Patty’s reunion with her younger sisters, Mel, a practising doctor in Tin Can Bay, Australia, and Cindy, the youngest and a nurse in New Jersey. Accompanying Mel to her first trip to North America was her Australian partner Warwick, while Cindy came along with her American husband Ken, who had visited us in Toronto more than a couple of times. Also with us were our daughter Isobel who works in Montreal and her boyfriend, Jonathan, a French-Canadian from Levi and Drummondville, Quebec, both of whom served as our tireless guides and translators in the largely French-speaking townships.


"I don't know what pork barrel is," Janet Napoles tells investigative journalist Malou Mangahas in an exclusive interview. Photo courtesy of GMA News. Click link http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mOYYUaRCxYU to view "Janet Napoles, itinangging sangkot siya sa umano'y bilyung-bilyong pork barrel scam."

Disconnected from Facebook, the respite offered me some needed break from my rambunctious social and political forum which was smouldering before I left on the hot issue of the corruptive effect of the pork barrel system in the Philippines. We’ve had our own share of corruption in Canadian politics, too. Newspapers and the social media here in these parts are likewise buzzing with daily opinions and blogs condemning corruption and scandals in government.

But unlike politicians in the Philippines and other foreign governments, our politicians in Canada have the decency and grace to step down and resign once their corruption has been exposed.

This past June, Montreal Mayor Michael Applebaum quit amid charges of fraud, conspiracy, breach of trust and municipal corruption. It was the latest scandal in the so-called “City of Saints.” Applebaum’s predecessor also resigned last year after evidence of staff wrongdoing on his watch surfaced in a province-wide corruption inquiry.

A politician or government official resigning because of charges of corruption would never happen in the Philippines. Former presidents Ferdinand Marcos, Joseph Estrada and Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, and now Janet Napoles, the “queen of pork barrel” who is still at large, never quit until some higher power deposed them.

The dictator Marcos plundered the nation’s economy not only by showering his supporters in Congress with pork-barrel money but also by rewarding his cronies with licenses and grants to freely run and operate businesses in the country while he pocketed millions of dollars from foreign loans.

Whatever happened to the ill-gotten wealth that the Marcos family accumulated during his years of presidency? His wife, Imelda, and children Imee and Bongbong are still around, all deeply entrenched in political power as if they have not committed wrongdoings against the Filipino people.

Joseph Estrada, the “eternal” mayor, is back as Manila’s newly elected head of city government. His election was never tarnished by charges of plunder and corruption while he was president for which he was removed from office by a revival of the EDSA people power movement.

In fact, Erap finished second to Noynoy Aquino during the last presidential elections, proving that corruption in government is an acceptable part of the Philippine political landscape.

Noynoy Aquino’s predecessor, Gloria Arroyo, remains under house arrest and grounded in a hospital, merely getting a slap on the wrist considering the magnitude of Arroyo’s alleged corruption in government.

The most Noynoy Aquino could accomplish to showcase his “matuwid na daan” (straight path) mantra of government was to impeach Supreme Court Chief Justice Renato Corona, not on charges of corruption, but for his failure to comply with the constitutional obligation to file his statement of assets and liabilities net worth (SALN).

The current president’s campaign against corruption is in fact a charade that masks his own government’s involvement in wrongdoings, if not by his family, but by his closest and loyal political allies.

Through the pork-barrel system, the president is able to reward those who toe his line and punish those who go against his wishes. This is exactly the main rationale for pork-barrel politics.

It is a system of largesse, a practice institutionalized by the Americans during their colonial administration of the Philippines. It is pork to us while the Americans call it earmarks. It is the grease that oils and runs the political system.


READ MY LIPS. Pork is here to stay, as far as President Aquino is concerned. Photo courtesy of the Malacanang Photo Bureau.

Aquino’s defensive propagandists are however quick to respond to allegations of corruption in the current administration.

They bring out the legacy of the president’s mother, Cory Aquino, as some sort of a saintly presidency that was never tainted with any wrongdoing or misbehaviour in government.

Because of his mother’s legacy, the current president, to the eyes of his official apologists, can never be corrupted. This virtual aura of righteousness, they argue, also extends to the president’s sisters, their families, and close friends.

Yet, this is far from the truth.

Through his friends in the yellow media, Noynoy Aquino is able to manufacture their version of the truth to whitewash all the lies and deception about his presidency. Despite their efforts to cover up Aquino’s involvement in various anomalies, they fail to put a lid on the revelation of his sister Ballsy Aquino-Cruz’s involvement in the $30million MRT 3 extortion scam from the Czech railway company Inekon.

Other scams by relatives and cronies unearthed earlier are the grand smuggling by Danding Cojuangco of sugar and oil products to evade taxes, landgrabbing by families of Noynoy Aquino’s Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa from farmers in San Jose Del Monte to make way for relocation housing projects, DSWD’s Soliman and aides’ mishandling of P18 billion ($442 million) worth of calamity funds and international aid pouring in for victims of typhoon Pablo, Aquino’s hand in P2.8-billion road scam in Davao del Sur, and many more others.

Now, the Aquino government is exploiting the recent exposé about Janet Napoles’ 10-billion peso “pork-barrel” scam for ghost projects involving members of Congress, the executive department and other agencies, local government units, fake NGOs and a big-time syndicate of influence peddlers and high-flying hustlers.

Instead of taking the lead role in the anti-corruption crusade, President Aquino and his inner sanctum have chosen to defer to the people’s anger against the scope of Napoles’ corruption and the consequent growing public clamour to abolish the pork-barrel system.

This shows how farcical this president’s crusade against corruption is, for he knows full well that neither an investigation of the Napoles’ scandal, whether by the Senate’s Blue Ribbon Committee or the Department of Justice and the National Bureau of Investigation, nor a million march against corruption and the pork barrel will accomplish anything.

On August 26, a million Filipinos will troop to Rizal Park to show the people’s collective outrage against the pork-barrel system. Everybody’s hoping this is the tipping point when the people will demand President Noynoy Aquino to abolish the program called Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) that justifies the system of pork barrel which allocates 200 million pesos for each senator and 70 million for each member of Congress in the annual budget.

But this million march is neither an EDSA I nor a Tahrir Square revolution.

EDSA I ended with the ouster of an oppressive dictator who ruled the Philippines with impunity. It restored at least the trappings of a democracy.

The Tahrir Square uprising in Egypt also brought down a military dictatorship but failed to kickstart the beginnings of a new democratic political system.

The August 26 million march will simply air the people’s collective indignation. Once the marchers have dispersed and gone home, reality will sink in that this system of pork barrel will continue to stay.

It will take more than a million march to overhaul a corrupt system, but at least it could be the start to launch bigger protests and demonstrations against a government that has been hypocritical about its own corruption.

As a society, we cannot stop believing that good government is possible. If we do so, then it would be unlikely for us to do what is necessary to keep government honest.

Debasing our democracy


Of the total party-list members of Congress, all but five are millionaires, raising the question whether they represent the marginalized and underrepresented sectors of the country. Click http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1XN53F4-F1Y&nofeather=True to view Party-List System, Dapat na nga bang Amyendahan?

No matter all the previous misgivings about her appointment, Philippine Supreme Court Chief Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno has got it right, at least this time.

Chief Justice Sereno dissented with the majority decision of the high court that the party-list system need not represent marginalized and underrepresented sectors.

Recall that under the 1987 Philippine Constitution, the party-list system was envisaged by the framers to be a “tool for social justice” that will allow the poor to have a voice in Congress by allotting 20 percent of the seats for the marginalized and underrepresented.

The underlying purpose of the party-list system is to promote proportional representation in the election of representatives to the House of Representatives. This was clearly the mandate echoed in RA 7941 or the Party-List System Act that was enacted in 1995 as the enabling legislation for the implementation of the constitutional provision for a system of proportional representation.

So much of the debate about the party-list system has been focused on the requirement that parties or groups registered under the system must represent the marginalized and underrepresented. But in doing away with this requirement, the Supreme Court has in effect undermined the original intent of the Constitution and further entrenched the free-for-all political process (first-past-the-post system) that has hitherto favoured the elite and the wealthy.

The Supreme Court has effectively bastardized the party-list system since it is now open to all national, regional and sectoral parties and organizations, making it easier for millionaires and traditional politicians to use the party-list system to get elected. As a result, the underrepresented, because they cannot compete with the resources of the rich and powerful political parties, becomes even more marginalized than ever.

The party-list system is now virtually exposed as a mere lip service to the goal of representative democracy. Consider too, that with 20 percent of congressional seats reserved for party-list members, this system of representation is hardly proportional to the total votes cast, rendering it unimaginable for a disunited and disorganized number of party-list representatives to possibly override the dominant interests of the major political parties to pass legislation for the benefit of the marginalized.

Section 2 of the Party-List System Act declares: “The State shall promote proportional representation in the election of representatives to the House of Representatives through a party-list system of registered national, regional and sectoral parties or organizations or coalitions thereof, which will enable Filipino citizens belonging to the marginalized and underrepresented sectors, organizations and parties, and who lack well-defined political constituencies but who could contribute to the formulation and enactment of appropriate legislation that will benefit the nation as a whole, to become members of the House of Representatives. Towards this end, the State shall develop and guarantee a full, free and open party system in order to attain the broadest possible representation of party, sectoral or group interests in the House of Representatives by enhancing their chances to compete for and win seats in the legislature, and shall provide the simplest scheme possible.”

* From the very beginning, the Act is a defective piece of legislation. While it recognizes the obligation of the state to guarantee free and broad democratic representation, it also identifies marginalized and underrepresented sectors as the principal beneficiary of the party-list system.

This is a contradiction in terms: free and democratic representation, yet excluding the marginalized and underrepresented. In effect, it is an affirmative action program, which Chief Justice Sereno called a “tool for social justice” and consistent with the original intent of the framers of the Constitution.

Both the Constitution and the Party-List System Act have chosen to reflect reality, for without the means to elect their own representatives in Congress, the marginalized would be forever voiceless. The law recognizes the inequity in Philippine politics where it is impossible for the marginalized to participate in legislation because the system is monopolized and controlled by the oligarchic elite from which the major political parties draw their members.

The drafters of the Constitution envisioned that the party-list system would be “a countervailing means for the weaker segments of our society to overcome the preponderant advantages of the more entrenched and well-established political parties.”

Justice Arturo Brion, who voted with the majority, is totally wrong when he disagreed with Chief Justice Sereno that it is not the principal function of the Supreme Court to create policy. Brion argued that the party-list system is grounded on electoral reform but that is a vacuous line of reasoning.

Electoral reform for what? In deciding on cases, the Supreme Court is in effect mediating conflicting arguments that could determine and define policy that is expressed in the law.

Brion explained that the party-list system aimed to benefit “those who were marginalized in the legislative district elections because they could not be elected in the past for lack of the required votes and specific constituency in the winner-take-all legislative district contest…”

With due respect, Justice Brion is totally out of touch with reality. The main reason why the marginalized could not get elected is not because they lack the required votes, but the fact that they could not simply compete with the wealthy and entrenched candidates of the major political parties.

Their marginalization is not the result of a failure to garner the plurality of votes but their lack of resources and political capacity to compete against the big and traditional politicians.

In disagreeing with the court’s majority decision, Chief Justice Sereno says that it “may have further marginalized the already marginalized and underrepresented in this country.

In the guise of political plurality, it allows national and regional parties or organizations to invade what should be constitutional and statutorily protected space. [It] fails to appreciate that the party-list system is not about mere political plurality, but plurality with a heart for the poor and disadvantaged.”

Sereno further argues that Section 1, Article XIII of the Philippine Constitution mandates Congress to give highest priority to enacting measures that “reduce social, economic and political equalities, and remove cultural inequities by equitably diffusing wealth and political power for the common good.” This strikes directly at the heart of Justice Brion’s superficial argument that the Supreme Court is not tasked to create policy when in fact the court’s majority decision, particularly with its parameters on which parties, sectors or groups can register under the party-list system, practically amended the party-list law which is a function that belongs to Congress.


Ang Galing ng Pinoy Party-List Representative Mikey Arroyo who claims to represent security guards, tricycle drivers and the unemployed. According to the Comelec, Arroyo authored only one bill on the welfare of security guards and the measure has languished in Congress due to either "sheer laziness" or a "glaring lack of empathy" for the plight of the truly marginalized.

Before the Supreme Court decision, 54 party-list groups were disqualified by the Commission on Elections (Comelec) for failing to meet the requirements that they represent marginalized sectors in the House of Representatives. Included in this group was the son of former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, Juan Miguel “Mikey” Arroyo of the party-list Ang Galing Pinoy, which claims to represent security guards, tricycle drivers, farmers and small businessmen. In addition to Mikey Arroyo, other groups that can now participate in the upcoming polls include Kakusa, or Kapatiran ng mga Nakakulong na Walang Sala, which was organized by convicted child-rapist and former Zamboanga Representative Romeo Jalosjos, and the Bantay party-list group of fugitive human rights violator Jovito Palparan.

According to the Comelec, majority of the 54 previously disqualified party-lists might be allowed to run again in the May 13 midterm elections under the new guidelines issued by the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court has allowed these groups to participate in the elections as long as their principal advocacy pertains to the special interest and concern of their sectors. What special interests and concerns of security guards and tricycle drivers does Mikey Arroyo represent that they ought to be heard in Congress? This wasn’t the intent of the law in providing for the party-list system. It’s not the advocacy of special interests that matters but the absence or lack of resources of marginalized groups to compete against the powerful traditional politicians.

The current party-list system is already abused as it is by the landed elite and dominant political families. With the new Supreme Court ruling, the dominant political parties will be further entrenched in power because they could easily register their members under the party-list system and grab the 20 percent seats allocated for marginalized groups. As a result, with the election of their dummies under the party-list system, politics will continue to be dominated by the oligarchic elite. In the words of Vencer Crisostomo, chairman of the progressive Anakbayan party-list, the elite will further “trapofy” the House of Representatives. (“Trapo” is short in Filipino for traditional politicians)

It will take more than the current party-list system to democratize political representation in Congress. The Party-List System Act was mandated to promote proportional representation as envisaged in the Philippine Constitution, but dominant political families have ambushed the party-list system from progressive-minded groups, and now the Supreme Court has distorted the system by opening party-list registration to national parties and other sectors.

We might as well kiss goodbye to the party-list system and embark on a process of genuine political reform that will revolutionize the existing political system.

To make the system more representative and democratic, it makes sense to return to the unicameral national assembly under the 1896 Malolos Constitution where representatives in Congress shall be elected directly by their constituents to whom they can closely identify with their problems and interests.

The Senate has to be abolished for there is no need for senators to be elected at large based on popularity and wealth.

Campaign financing must be reformed and there should be limits imposed on how much candidates can spend to level the playing field.

Prominent political families must be reined in from dominating the political process.

Then apply the system of proportional representation at the district level, i.e., voters will choose among parties rather than among candidates and votes are awarded to parties in proportion to the votes they receive. In this way, proportional representation will open up the political process beyond one or two dominant political parties.

The biggest problem, however, is whether our elected representatives have the political will to go on board this odyssey toward genuine political reform.

Trouble in the diaspora


A sharp rise in the foreign population of Singapore has ratcheted up racial tensions. Photo by Reuters/Edgar Su.

A malicious and hideous blog that goes by the title of Blood Stained Singapore has become the bane of the Filipino diaspora in the prosperous and sovereign city-state and island nation in Southeast Asia.

Catching fire in blogger traffic, the sensationalist post has been viewed 529,301 times and shared in social media platforms. The original blog post dated May 24 encourages Singaporeans to show displeasure and intolerance for Filipinos. For a while it has appeared to be taken down, but was republished on Monday, June 16.

The aforementioned Singapore blogger has proposed a five-point guide for Singaporeans to show they do not tolerate the presence of Filipinos whom he has described as having infested the island nation. Here are the five ways the blogger recommended showing displeasure to Filipinos:

1. When you encounter a Pinoy waiter/waitress or customer service officer, reject and ask for a replacement by telling this: “Could you kindly ask a Singaporean staff to speak to me? Your standard of English – there is much left to be desired.” If the idiot continues rambling on, tell him/her with a smile: “Your English sucks, capisce? Get the fuck out of my uncaring face and find me someone else, pronto.”

2. When the Peenoise become rowdy or do not deserve basic social decorum, a little “nudge” in the right direction won’t harm. Just make it look accidental. Pump your fist in victory later when they are out of your sight. We understand sometimes they just don’t get it, so a little more force must be employed. Like what this unsung hero did: “This morning at Bishan Circle Line MRT I pushed a Pinoy out of the train before door closes.”

3. When dining at Jollibee or any other Filipino themed restaurant, toss food into your mouth, chew thoroughly, and then spit it out. Bite another morsel and repeat. Do this till your plate is a masterpiece of regurgitated nastiness. Ask for the bill (pay in cash), scribble “Pinoy food fucking tastes like shit” on the receipt and remember to leave that piece of paper behind.

4. Never render help when Filipinos are involved in serious traffic accidents. Do not call the ambulance. But you have our permission to take photographs so they can be tweeted later with the caption: Hopefully another Pinoy has breathed his last on the little red dot. RIP.NOT.

5. Pray for a flood of biblical proportions to descend upon Orchard Road on 8 June (Filipinos have cancelled a parade to celebrate Philippine Independence Day because of public order and safety concerns). Go to the nearest church and pray. Pray hard for divine intervention aloud. Make sure God (and the Pinoy sitting next to you on the same bench) hears every word.

6. The Singapore blogger added #6 to his anti-Filipino guide as a bonus point. If you see a Pinoy cashier at NTUC, Cold Storage or Giant, throw a can of Baygon into your shopping before approaching him/her to make payment. When the cashier picks up the insecticide spray ready to do a barcode scan, ask him/her wryly: “Is this effective against Filipinos? Sorry, I meant cockroaches.”

* On its face, the blog appears very juvenile and immature. It has created a groundswell of infuriated comments on the web from both Filipinos and Singaporeans alike.

It also caught the attention of civil society organizations in Singapore which put out a statement condemning racist and xenophobic rhetoric and behaviour in Singapore that threatens the human rights of all (especially migrants) and the health of political discourse.

On the other hand, the blog could just be a troll which in Internet slang is someone who posts inflammatory statements with the intent to upset and provoke readers into an emotional response. The goal of the troll is to draw blog traffic towards his or her site, which the Singapore blogger has obviously achieved in attracting more than half a million viewers.

But not to Marc Titus Cebreros, chief of the Philippines’ Human Rights Information and Communication Division, who considers the Singaporean blog as “a black and white case of hate speech and hate mongering that deserves to be condemned and penalized.”

Rightfully so, because such hate speech and mongering is penalized in many jurisdictions in the world today.

Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong also condemned the “thuggish behavior” of people who harassed the organizers of the Philippine Independence Day celebration, calling them a “disgrace to Singapore.”


Orchard Road in Singapore where Filipinos originally planned to celebrate Philippine Independence Day last June 8 but was cancelled due to public order and safety concerns. Photo by Komar/Shutterstock.com

Reading through the long thread of comments by Filipinos on the Internet about the Singaporean blog has surprisingly revealed a treasure trove of interesting and intelligent opinions, dealing with issues that range from the pleasant and innocuous behaviour of the Filipino diaspora to the various arguments on why so many Filipinos are leaving the country to work abroad.

The exchange of opinions is both lively and enlightening, so unlike the social and political forum on the web I have joined which is largely peppered (pardon my lack of sense of humour) with trite and hollow postings by members who are supposedly adept in political and social issues.

Going back to the Singaporean’s xenophobic blog, this irrational fear of foreigners and their unwarranted bashing appear on the rise almost everywhere in the world.

Sometimes the familiar chant of “USA, USA, USA” that we hear during sporting events strikes a diaphanous sense of superiority, a triumphal exclamation of exceptionalism, especially when we hear it in non-sporting occasions. But most of the time, this unwelcoming attitude to foreigners is unjustified.

For instance, most of the criticisms leveled against foreign migrant labour are unfounded.

In Canada and other advanced economies including Singapore, this underclass of labour is generally seen as taking jobs away from the host country’s citizens. These are mostly menial and low-paying jobs that citizens usually prefer not to take and employers are willing to let others like migrants do for them at lower wages.

Overseas Filipino workers are by and large overqualified for these jobs but are prepared to be underemployed rather than remain idle and jobless at home.

Thus, in Singapore, most of the Filipinos working there are domestic helpers, health care assistants, in sales and retail and other service industries. These are highly qualified workers by virtue of their education and training, but could not be absorbed by the local Philippine economy because of lack of employment opportunities.

So when Filipinos are hired to work overseas, they are being brought in to take on low-paying jobs that are not at par with their skills and training credentials. Thus, they form an underclass that is not only underpaid, but also deprived of government protections and generally without the opportunity of a pathway to permanent residence and citizenship.

When the Singaporean blogger claims of “Filipino infestation” of his island nation, he is either in denial or ignorant of the benefits of Filipino cheap labour to Singapore as a whole. And when he asks his fellow Singaporeans to follow his five-point anti-Filipino guide, he goes beyond xenophobia and commits the most disgraceful act of inhumanity against Filipinos.

In Western Europe particularly, xenophobia against new immigrants from Eastern Europe, Islamic countries and African nations is far more serious that these newcomers are regarded as an existential threat to their dominant culture. They sanitize their nativist resentment against everything foreign with irrational arguments against immigration, and sometimes stir up extreme patriotism on the pretext of national self-defence.

According to a Hong Kong local government think-tank, even Hong Kong is now afflicted with xenophobia directed against Chinese mainlanders, which it describes as an alarming trend towards narrow nativism in recent years.

It cited various reasons for the conflicts between Hongkongers and mainlanders, some bend on the ridiculous — such as traders snapping up baby formula, causing a shortage for local mothers. Or some mainlanders talking loudly, behaving in a disorderly and impolite manner, or refusing to queue up, which overseas Filipinos have also been criticized for.

The Singaporean blogger’s attempt to demonize Filipinos does not add to a robust political dialogue and the promotion of the values of equality and universal human rights.

Civil society organizations in Singapore have spoken and they have identified that the key to addressing the economic frustrations of many Singaporeans is to amend the economic policies and structures that cause Singapore’s worsening inequality and marginalization.

They are correct in saying that these inequitable policies were not instituted by migrants and will not automatically disappear if the migrant population decreases.

Blood Stained Singapore, the blog, does not enrich this political conversation. Rather, it diminishes the humanity of Filipinos, and Singaporeans as well.

Mad against dynasties


Article 2, Section 26 of the Philippine Constitution provides: The State shall guarantee equal access to public service and prohibit political dynasty as may be defined by law. Click link http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7hV5Xra6f0s to view Dynasties in Democracies: The Political Side of Inequality.

We have been unbelievably seduced by democracy’s self-fulfilling prophecy that it will always prevail in the end. That during times of crisis, the electoral process will measure up to our expectations and deliver the kind of men and women who will lead us to democracy’s promised land.

This has always been the public perception manufactured by government and those in power every election year. For so long we have counted on democracy to check the excesses of our political process, and it seems the long years of exposure have made us numb, almost like zombies who would do and think(?) whatever is told them.

Why vote when it counts for nothing? Or to the seasoned cynic, why vote when your vote will not be counted?

Maybe it will, but not for your chosen candidate but added to the votes in favour of another. This is the Filipino state-of-the-art counting of votes: “dagdag-bawas” or add-substract.

Whatever new election technology the Commission on Elections (Comelec) has, there’s always a counter technology to subvert it, a product of Filipino ingenuity.

Article 2, Section 26 of the Philippine Constitution provides: The State shall guarantee equal access to public service and prohibit political dynasty as may be defined by law. Click link http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7hV5Xra6f0s to view Dynasties in Democracies: The Political Side of Inequality.

We have been for so long focused on the wrong problem. It’s not counting the votes that matters but the kind of people to choose from. But in the final analysis, the deficiency could also be our fault for why after all do we keep voting for the same families and their relatives?

Or why are we easily persuaded by the glamour and fame from acting or boxing in the ring that it can translate to serious political responsibility? Or why do we thumb down our noses on people who honestly care for the poor, those whose sterling record in serving the people is an exemplar for the kind we must elect in office?

Wealth and power determine the outcome of the electoral process. Political dynasties have accumulated wealth and power over a long period of time. Elections are important, not so much for the masses, but mostly for these families to keep their stranglehold on political power. As a result, our democracy is flawed, not a truly representative democracy.

If the government is really serious in reforming the electoral process so that democracy works and becomes more truly representative, the solution is not in simply automating election results but in retrofitting our mindset with radical ideas of reform and change.

We can be experts in counting beans or even the stars in the sky, but we need to see the beans as being nutritious supplements or the stars lighting the darkness above us. Even before we can ensure that counting votes is quick and accurate, the people must be ensured that the candidates are not only qualified but will serve the public with integrity and honesty.

No election apparatus can give this assurance; thus, any improvements in the electoral process must come from the people’s elected representatives to enact the necessary and relevant legislation.

But here’s the catch. The real problem looms even bigger because our representatives in Congress will naturally refuse to make laws that run counter to their interests.

After their election, victorious candidates tend to suffer from loss of memory, forgetting the people who elected them and the promises they made. Such is the nature of the human condition. That is why we need to be forever vigilant even if we have to launch a kind of fugitive democracy, or what is sometimes referred to as democracy without politics.

* We can’t just sit still and do nothing. One obvious way to prompt our elected representatives is being irritating.

Mark Kingwell, a professor of philosophy at the University of Toronto, likens this to a lump of foreign matter that enters a complacent system and induces a kind of internal instability. Kingwell analogizes it to the abrasive grain of sand that slips inside an oyster’s shell and in attempting to stabilize itself, the oyster creates something new and beautiful.

In my previous blog I wrote about democracy without elections and this is possible if the people can just be irritating enough to compel their representatives to implement the democratic provisions of the Constitution that allow the people to directly enact laws by initiative and referendum.

Rule of or by the people is ingrained in the 1987 Philippine Constitution. Section 1, Article II states that “sovereignty resides in the people and all government authority emanates from them.” Under Section 2, Article XVII, amendments to the Constitution may be directly proposed by the people through initiative, and under Section 32, Article VI, the people can also directly propose and enact laws or approve or reject any act or law through a system of initiative and referendum.

In 1989, Congress passed Republic Act No. 6735, “The Initiative and Referendum Act,” the enabling legislation to the aforementioned constitutional provisions.

Interestingly in 1997, the Philippine Supreme Court on three occasions examined and rejected RA 6735, but only insofar as the law was supposed to implement the system of initiative on amendments to the Constitution. In its decision, the Supreme Court ruled that Congress downgraded the importance or paramountcy of the system of initiative as envisioned in the Constitution and merely paid lip service to it.

The original decision declared RA 6735 incomplete or inadequate in spelling out the essential terms and conditions for implementing the system of initiative on constitutional amendments.

The Supreme Court would revisit the same law in 2006 after the Comelec junked a proposed initiative by the Sigaw ng Bayan Movement to amend the Constitution which would change the government into a parliamentary system. Comelec dismissed the petition of Sigaw ng Bayan and the Union of Local Authorities of the Philippines to verify signatures they have gathered in support of their petition.

Malacanang was rumored to have backed the petition and even government funds were allegedly used in procuring the supporting signatures.

Again, the Supreme Court voted to uphold its previous ruling in 1997, this time arguing that the proposed changes being sought by the petitioners would constitute a major constitutional overhaul.

According to the Supreme Court, the “people’s initiative” as envisaged in the Philippine Constitution can only be used for lesser amendments. The high court also took notice of the alleged deceptive signatures gathered to support the petition and ruled that it cannot therefore allow such constitutionally infirm initiative to desecrate the Constitution.

Arguably, the Supreme Court’s decision was obviously politically motivated, but the onus should really rest on the proponents of the initiative to show they have satisfied the constitutional requirements and that the proposed parliamentary system was not motivated by selfish interests.

The stakes were high in 1997 and 2006 because both the initiatives were intended to amend or revise the Constitution. Instead of stoking the divisions that were breaking the country apart as to whether to proceed with the revision of the Constitution, the Supreme Court decided to thread its grounds very lightly by preserving the status quo.

Apparently, the provisions of RA 6735 regarding the system of initiative and referendum for the people to directly enact legislative proposals were saved and not invalidated by the Supreme Court decision.

This is now the new battleground, and it has already started with proposed initiatives by civil society organizations for the people to enact a law prohibiting political dynasties in accordance with the Philippine Constitution.

Members of the multi-sectoral Movement Against Dynasties (MAD) have started gathering signatures for their campaign.

The Kapatiran Party has filed a petition with the Comelec to hold an initiative for the people to enact a national legislation against political dynasties. AnDayaMo (Anti-Dynasty Movement) has also filed a petition with the Comelec to disqualify certain candidates who are members of known political clans.

Meanwhile, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) threw its support to the growing anti-dynasty movement through a pastoral letter read in all their parishes entreating all Filipino Catholics to support the people's initiative to enact a law against political dynasties.

At present, two anti-political dynasty bills are sitting in Congress, one in the Senate authored by Miriam Defensor Santiago and another in the House of Representative authored by Teodoro “Teddy” Casiño.

Both bills, which are identical and cover only locally elected officials, are in limbo and unlikely to see the light of day as members of Congress are not expected to pass legislation that endangers their own selfish interests.


Since more that 75 percent of its members are from political dynasties, Congress passing a law to implement the constitutional prohibition against political dynasties is next to impossible. Click link to view and sign petition, End Political Dynasties Now!, http://www.change.org/petitions/end-political-dynasties-now

More than half of the 33 senatorial candidates on the official ballot in the coming May 2013 elections are scions of notable families who have long dominated the landscape of Philippine politics.

One Filipino senator, who is not linked to any political dynasty, has called the Philippines the “world capital of political dynasties,” with 178 active dynasties.

They are the “equivalent of Mafia crime families,” she added, who have carved a monopoly of political power over a long period time, some for more than 30 years.

Enough. No more. Tama na! This must be the people’s rallying cry.

The genuine rage against the entrenched elite and families dynasties is real. It’s like the Occupy movement that infuriated Wall Street financiers in the United States during the fall of 2012, but much better because here the people have a clear purpose of what they want to achieve.

They have leadership and organization. This is the clear first step on the road to democratic recovery, and it is historically correct since it is the mass movements that are generally responsible for fundamental changes in society, not a small group of politicians elected because of their social class, wealth and power.

Looking bad


Three's not a crowd. Senator Bong Revilla hugs Minority Leader Juan Ponce Enrile and Senator Jinggoy Estrada, his co-respondents in the plunder case filed by the government. SENATE PHOTO.

As if allegations of being the mentor to the pork barrel queen are not enough to make him look bad, news of Budget Secretary Florencio Abad’s total number of 11 family members in government can’t even budge him from his enviable position of the President’s closest and most trusted ally. Now, if you’re counting, that’s about four times the sound of bad resonated in one full sentence.

Janet Napoles, the alleged pork barrel queen, has accused Mr. Abad as the one who taught her how to divert funds from the pork barrel allocated to members of Congress. Benhur Luy, the other whistleblower, also implicated Mr. Abad although the latter’s name was erased from his list.

But no matter how loud the protestations are, President Aquino appears impervious and obdurate in his belief that there is no probable cause his most trusted cabinet secretary had committed a crime.

Even if the whistleblowers Janet Napoles and Benhur Luy also pointed to Mr. Abad’s direct involvement in the 10-billion-peso pork barrel scandal, similar to the allegations that form the basis of the charges against Senators Juan Ponce Enrile, Jinggoy Estrada and Ramon Revilla Jr.

The Philippine system of justice looks not just laughable but just as bad and as duplicitous as the moral standards that dictate the President’s convenient set of values.

“There seems to be a selective justice. We are all aware there are many people involved and yet only three are charged,” according to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, the official organization of all Philippine lawyers, as it questioned the government’s selective indictment of people linked to the pork barrel scam.

If we are to use the allegations of both Napoles and Luy to indict and eventually convict the three senators, shouldn’t Mr. Abad be judged on the same accusation?

Why prosecute the three senators but show mercy to Mr. Abad?

After all, the allegations have yet to be proved in court and it should be the same principle of presumption of innocence that must be applied to all, including Mr. Abad and all the President’s allies implicated in the scandal. Not presuming Mr. Abad’s innocence and pronouncing the guilt of the others accused because they happen to be outside the President’s circle.

Convict the three senators if you will, but don’t spare Mr. Abad because he is the President’s most trusted ally.

In shielding Mr. Abad from prosecution, President Aquino is showing he has no “delicadeza” and shame. The President is fiddling with the detrimental side of politics and favouritism. The same can be said about Mr. Abad’s proliferation of his kin in government.

According to news reports, there are 11 relatives of Mr. Abad currently holding positions in the government, which include his wife Henedina, currently a representative in Congress for the province of Batanes and vice chair of the powerful House Appropriations Committee; daughter Julia, head of the Presidential Management Staff; son Luis, chief of staff of Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima, as well as four nephews, one niece, and two first cousins occupying various government posts. By all appearances, this is nepotism on a grand scale. It is as if the Abad family now owns a large portion of the government, like it is their own plantation or fiefdom.


Budget Secretary Florencio Abad and President Benigno Aquino III.

* This type of nepotism in public service, however, is not really unusual. The alignment of politics in all levels of government in the Philippines, whether for elective or appointive officials, depends on kinship and family ties. Hence, why we will always have political dynasties that dominate the political landscape.

The same favouritism or influence is also wielded by CEOs or top executives in the private sector in the appointments of their children in high positions in the corporate structure.

A social science research conducted in the United States, which was published in the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, revealed that rich people exhibit narcissistic tendencies and higher levels of entitlement among those of the higher income and social class.

The study found a sense of entitlement for children of the rich that they could go through life without feeling guilty about having rich parents and being born with certain environmental advantages.

When the respondents were asked to depict themselves as circles, with size indicating relative importance, richer people chose larger circles for themselves and smaller ones for others.

Another experiment found that they also looked in the mirror more frequently. The study suggested that wealth may breed narcissistic tendencies—and wealthy people justify their excess by convincing themselves that they are more deserving of it.

According to the study, the rich get jobs through family connections. After going to whatever elite university their parents attended, getting a job at whatever firm their parents worked at seems only natural.

The culture of hiring in Wall Street, for example, confirms this observation that direct nepotism in the hiring process is prevalent in the hiring of children of rich people by giant financial firms.

Nepotism to some extent is probably tolerable in privately-owned corporations since the owners would rather put their trust on their children and close relatives. However, it is generally frowned upon in the public service for it shows an appearance of unfairness when it comes to hiring or appointing relatives in government.

Who’s to blame if Mr. Abad has 11 relatives in government?

Perhaps, he is more than qualified to be the Budget Secretary, a position that demands the President’s unflinching loyalty and trust. His wife cannot also be pigeon-holed in a group who succeeds in politics because of family connections because she was elected by her constituents. She succeeded Mr. Abad in Congress.

Of course, marriage to Mr. Abad also helps her secure the powerful position of vice-chair of the House Appropriations Committee. Their children, Julia and Luis, both occupy high and significant positions in the government’s bureaucracy because of their familial links to Mr. Abad which are their strongest assets, notwithstanding their professional wherewithal to perform the rigorous demands of their jobs.

But having so many relatives in government can perpetuate a deeply unjust social order. We have seen in the past how the cronies of Ferdinand Marcos had strengthened a repressive political regime.

Mere appearance of nepotism is bad. The Abad family makes it look worse than bad. If our system is one of aristocracy, then Mr. Abad could be excused for ensuring the appointment of his family members to King Benigno’s court.

Yet, President Aquino keeps harping on his “matuwid na daan” as his government’s mantra, that if there is no corrupt, none will be poor. That’s fine if the President will apply the same standard to members of his own cabinet.

But it is not fine when he spares one or two in his cabinet on one hand, while he prosecutes three or more who happen to be his political enemies, on the other.


Indignation rally. Protesters massed outside the Supreme Court while the justices were deliberating on the legality of the Disbursement Acceleration Program. Photo by Danny Pata.

Filipinos as a whole are tired and fed up with this government’s hypocritical and phony attitude to the prosecution of corrupt officials in government. Except for the impeachment of the former Supreme Court Chief Justice, and he was not even charged of corruption, President Aquino’s government does not have a track record of success in prosecuting corrupt officials.

Former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo remains in detention for the crime of plunder even if not one single charge brought against her has been proved before the Sandiganbayan.

The question this time is whether the government prosecution would be able to prove the guilt of the three senators? Sandiganbayan has already allowed them bail so it does not augur well for the prosecution at this early stage.

In my previous blog, Presumed guilty, I wrote about the current President’s distorted understanding of the presumption of innocence afforded all those accused of committing crimes.

To him, only his allies and friends should enjoy the presumption of innocence unless proven guilty by a competent court.

Those on the other side of the fence, his political enemies, are meant to be prosecuted and presumed guilty as charged.

This is plain double standard in applying the law. That’s why the President is so relentless and persistent in sheltering Mr. Abad and others in the cabinet who have also been implicated in the pork barrel scandal. His hands are not clean and he doesn’t want the people to see them.

But the people will not be fooled this time, not even by the yellow media that promotes this government as immaculately clean and beyond refute.

There is growing consciousness among the people that corruption and nepotism in government mirror the unjust and unfair concentration of power and wealth in the hands of a few elite families.

The more this President defends his own allies, the more he looks bad. And the more his vision of a straight path looks crooked. "Plus ça change…."  (“The more it changes ....)

[The French proverb: 'Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose' = “The more it changes, the more it’s the same thing.”]


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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