Tuesday, July 29, 2014
Philippine President Benigno Simeon “BS” Aquino will be giving his fifth State of the Nation Address (SONA) soon. Just like his previous SONAs, we can all expect him to start off with motherhood statements and then proceed to bash the people he thinks are getting in the way of his agenda. His previous SONAs have become so formulaic so much so that some Filipinos think that he’s just wasting everybody’s time.
The most annoying part of BS Aquino’s speeches is his use of the words “po” and “bosses”. His over-the-top show of deference does not mean that he cares about what the average Filipino thinks. On the contrary, the bulk of his message actually gives the impression that he thinks the Filipino people are stupid enough to believe his propaganda.
It is hard to believe the President is being respectful especially when he spews negative propaganda against his political enemies and engages in the blame game in the same breath. Yes, he plays the blame game every chance he gets. His SONA will include blaming the Marcos years and his predecessor. Never mind that in four years, he could have done a lot to reverse the damage if only he had real vision for the country and had he not focused on persecuting his political enemies.
BS Aquino’s fifth SONA will also include blaming the Supreme Court Justices who got him in trouble for ruling parts of his Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) unconstitutional.
BS Aquino’s fifth SONA could be dedicated to how the DAP supposedly benefited the Filipino people. Of course he will not mention that a big bulk of the funds went to lawmakers whose priority projects include building impractical structures and giving handouts to individuals or groups of people who they think “deserve” their help. Their so-called “projects” won’t likely help our country achieve First World status. What these do achieve is help the lawmakers and their families stay in power for years to come. You see, a lot of Filipino voters love receiving freebies from public servants who look generous giving away public funds.
A week before the President’s SONA, the public already got a taste of what they might hear. In a televised speech defending the DAP, President BS Aquino gave a veiled threat to the Supreme Court saying that if they do not reverse their decision, he will have no choice but to order his minions in Congress to “intervene”. Judging by the move by the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) to request for the justices’ statement of assets, liability and net worth (SALN), we can all assume that “intervention” means Congress could start impeaching the justices one by one.
The threat could just be a bluff or a joke. As Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma insists, BS Aquino is a joker and should not be taken too seriously. The President’s communication team has become so good at spinning that they can turn around a joke that has gone flat or a statement that has become a public relations disaster. His threat to the SC for example, is something they have denied as soon as there was public uproar after his speech on the DAP.
Hopefully, the Supreme Court justices will not bow down to the pressure from the Chief Executive and his allies. If they have nothing to hide in their SALN, they shouldn’t have a problem even when BIR boss, Kim Henares is breathing down their necks. If they still care about the future of the Philippines and the democratic system, they should not allow BS Aquino to bully them into reversing their decision on the DAP. We can only hope that the justices have filed their SALN correctly. Otherwise, BS Aquino will have something to use against them.
BS Aquino’s fifth SONA will be interesting to some people. During his previous SONA’s the President’s popularity rating was high. Because of the outrage on the DAP, he knows a lot more people will be taking note of everything he says. The real question is, will he behave or throw another tantrum?
Saturday, July 26, 2014
Dear Juan Ponce Enrile
I hope that after your conviction, all those you intimidated and harmed before, during, and after martial law will find the courage to tell their stories. I hope that you live to hear those stories.
Sylvia Estrada Claudio
Last year, the 41st the anniversary of the declaration of martial law, I wrote a long post about you ending with, “Old as you are, you may never be brought to justice. And I doubt your conscience bothers you, enamored as you seem by unearned wealth and the pomp of your dishonorably gained positions. But I remember and will remember, with the hope that history will, like me, condemn.”
How much has changed in less than a year.
I accuse you of torture and murder. Not just of people unknown to me, but also of my friends. I accuse you of having committed the crime of plunder long before you stole your PDAF as a senator.
I do this not out of vindictiveness, but out of a need for healing that you owe me and all those who passed through martial law. I do not do this in anger, but in order to share with those who did not go through those years. They need to understand why you and those like you should never ever be allowed to have power again.
Now is a good time. If we did not learn our lesson then, it is time to look back now – time to realize that those who betray the nation are likely to betray it again. As you have done after martial law.
Ah, what catharsis to write this! What a relief to be able to call you names. I remember how you would punish people who criticized you, Marcos, and your cabal. This is what you did to my friend and former Philippine Collegian editor, Abraham Sarmiento, Jr. You imprisoned him for writing editorials critical of martial law. You released him only after you personally expressed displeasure over the editorials. I know because he told me. He stuck to his principles after release. You imprisoned him again and kept him in a cell until his health had so deteriorated he died shortly after his second release. Even as you seemed to recover your career, I often comforted myself with the thought that at least the sacrifices of those who fought the dictatorship allowed me the freedom to criticize you. That I did not do so daily was merely because of my limitations and not out of new-found respect for you.
Do you think I have forgotten my mother's years of excruciating worry as she watched me go deeper and deeper into the anti-dictatorship struggle? Oh, how her friends would comfort my mother, “Don't worry, Rita. If she gets caught I will agree to his advances and spend the night with him in exchange for your daughter's freedom.” Yes, even then we knew that you were a predator as well. You were so lascivious my humble family knew of two people whom you had propositioned. You abused power to the maximum. You made us see with clarity what Hannah Arendt calls “the banality of evil.”
Detention, torture during martial law
And I, like many who lived through those years, knew of your evil as a daily reality. My first job as a young doctor was with a health and human rights organization. I worked with those who had been tortured. Those days, detention and torture were almost a sure-fire combination. So I and a couple of colleagues would make the rounds of the detention centers with every new report of an arrest, hoping that, with a quick response, people would be tortured less, not killed.
We would present ourselves at the detention centers to any officer who would see us. (They never had a real system for us. That would mean some form of accountability.) We had to be brave because we knew at once this marked us as communist enemies. But they also had to have a semblance of regularity. So our requests would be considered. If the officer was a tough psychopath, he would just say “no” outright. But this would give us ammunition to go squealing to international human rights groups.
So we would often have to wait for hours for someone from the Judge Advocate General's Office (JAGO) to make a decision. I never met anyone from JAGO then. I did often get turned away by that office. If the JAGO turned us away, we would write you. Very rarely, for reasons unknown, you or JAGO would agree to our visit, often after weeks of delay. We always thought the delay was to ensure the torture would continue. Marcos, you and your military believed in torture as an investigation technique. After the torture, you would have us wait a few more days until the physical evidence of torture had disappeared. If there was enough international pressure; if you wanted us off your backs; if our seeing the detainees would not cause you any harm, you let us see them.
But they would tell us their stories. A detainee was lucky if all he or she got was getting beaten within an inch of their life. (I guess they left that for the amateurs called fraternity boys.) Electrocution, water boarding, rape and other forms of sexual harassment, sleep deprivation, hearing your wife being raped, hearing your comrades being tortured, being asked to sit on a block of ice while naked – your minions were so depraved in what they created.
Six weeks ago, labor leader Romy Castillo died of lung cancer. In 1984 your military electrocuted his testicles, put a barbecue stick up his penis, repeatedly submerged his face in a feces-filled toilet bowl. They beat him and played Russian roulette on him. I cannot forget the day, shortly after his ordeal, when I visited him in detention. I will not let you forget his story nor escape your liability for it.
Your military killed my childhood friend Lorenzo Lansang when he was only 19 years old. He was summarily executed in a field in Quezon province. Your hands are smeared in his blood and I will always point out how bloody they are.
I blame you and Marcos for the corruption and brutality of the military and police today. I still keep abreast of the torture situation. And it looks like the police and military have no idea how to interrogate and investigate without varying degrees of torture and intimidation thrown in. They have become addicted to it. All those recent reports of human rights violations by state authorities? Your face is on the logo.
And I remember that your wealth came from the thievery of the martial law years. It does not therefore surprise me that you stole your pork barrel funds.
You find me too dramatic? I could fill entire pages with more stories. And I am not alone. How lucky that I am much younger than you. I and my cohort will live after you and tell our tales.
Dear Johnny boy, I bet you miss the days when you could have imprisoned me for this. When you could have had your military rape me as revenge. I, on the other hand, am so glad you are under arrest now. Defanged, at last. Hopefully forever.
Unlike you, however, I would not wish torture upon those I truly think are enemies of the people. In short, I would not torture you. I would not deny you seeing your lawyers or doctors or relatives as you did to so many during martial law. It is fitting though that you may suffer in detention more than usual. I do note that you may be experiencing pain because you are old and infirm. I note it.
Your conviction will be so good for our country. It will show that such diabolical behavior will not always be rewarded. That somehow power can end and then a price will have to be paid. It may deter future wrongdoing. It may convince a few more people not to value the things you value.
The only thing I am afraid of is that you are morally incompetent. So much of your record indicates “sociopath.” I fear that it does not matter to you what people think or will remember. It isn't right that your punishment will be so short because you're not likely to live 20 more years. That was the amount of time you kept our people subjugated to martial law. So I can only hope that you at least care enough so that the last days of your life can be lived in regret.
I am hoping you care about how history will remember you. You did write and spend for the publication of that lie of a memoir. So I hope that you live to see your conviction. That after your conviction, all those you intimidated and harmed before, during, and after martial law will find the courage to tell their stories. I hope that you live to hear those stories.
But for now, this is my story. And before you go, I want you to know that the other stories will come. It's called History. It's called karma. - Rappler.com
Sylvia Estrada-Claudio is a doctor of medicine who also holds a PhD in Psychology. She is Professor of the Department of Women and Development Studies, College of Social Work and Community Development, University of the Philippines. She is also co-founder and Chair of the Board of Likhaan Center for Women's Health.
Wednesday, July 23, 2014
Philippine President Benigno Simeon ‘BS’ Aquino III is now on the run — from his own propaganda machine. No less than erstwhile Aquino apologist Conrado de Quiros laments the growing lameness of the ‘Edsa story’ in the eyes of the Filipino youth in his Inquirer column today, Storytelling. Echoingwhat I wrote earlier, de Quiros also drew upon Oscar Franklin Tan’s pieceAlienating youth from Edsa to arrive at the same conclusion
What has taken the luster out of Edsa over time is not just time, it is also the power of the story. Tan’s question, “How can one tell students to ‘never forget’ what they do not remember?” has a corollary. That is: How can one tell the students to “never forget” when they are not particularly clear on what it is they should remember?
Tan deserves a pat on the back on account of that breakthrough insight he had contributed to the national debate (note that this time, I do not enclose that last word in quotes like I usually do). Philippine society as reflected in itsmainstream national “debate” currently suffers from a bad case of tunnelvision. Nowhere is this more evident in the presumption that any sort of legacy of Ferdinand Marcos and Martial Law is necessarily bad. Tan came up with the conceptual leap that points us to the proverbial Emperor’s nakedness: that the notion of any political era in the Philippines that (1) pre-dates 1986 and (2) spans the years between 2001 and mid-2010 inclusive being necessarily evil is not one that transcends generations.
As de Quiros himself points out, “If the Marcoses are like the Japanese, Edsa is like the ‘Liberation’ in my generation’s experience. Both partake of very strong mythical elements.” Indeed, we in our generation cannot relate with our grandparents’ contempt for the Japanese. So it follows, today’s youth struggle to harbour the prescribed contempt for the Marcoses and even the Arroyos that their “elders” continuously shove down their throats and whip them into embracing.
It’s no wonder then that the embattled President BS Aquino has gone off toseek comfort in the arms of the Iglesia ni Cristo (INC) cult on the occasion ofthe grand opening of its monumental Philippine Arena stadium…
“We give our heartfelt thanks to the Iglesia Ni Cristo for your concern to your fellowmen; you are truly showing this not just in words but in action,” the President told the crowd gathered at the Philippine Arena.Perhaps at the back of P-Noy’s mind was the contrast between the INC’s support and the continued brickbats hurled at him by Catholic bishops, not all of whom are necessarily “GMA bishops.” Conspicuous, for instance, was retired archbishop Oscar Cruz in the front row of those who filed the impeachment complaint against P-Noy.
At least the INC is being consistent as it had endorsed the candidacy of then candidate BS Aquino and his sidekick Mar Roxas during the 2010 presidential elections. Interestingly, however, the INC had also endorsed the presidency of the Aquino-Cojuangco clan’s nemesis, former President Gloria Arroyo in the 2004 presidential election. And before that, in 1998, the popular cult had supported former President and convicted plunderer Joseph ‘Erap’ Estrada in the 1998 presidential elections. Most notable of all, the INC had supported the then incumbent President Ferdinand Marcos in the 1986 “snap elections”. The INC, suffice to say, holds quite the track record of political endorsement infamy.
President BS Aquino does, indeed, find himself in good company getting in bed with the INC. Fortunately for both the President and his cultish followers, the INC, as evident in its latest masterpiece edifice, remains pretty good at getting and keeping things erect
Almost 54 percent of Filipinos are under the age of 24. They were all born after 1990 and some of them became voters after 1996. By 2016 a big chunk of this group (5-10 million of them) will turn 18 and be eligible to vote as well. This is a new generation calling the political shots now in the Philippines — and they are no longer beholden to the Aquino-Cojuangco feudal clan, their Yellow colours, ‘Loser’ hand gestures, and hollow emorhetoric. To them, the 1986 EDSA “revolution” is just another boring chapter in their school books that follows the equally theoretical (perhaps a bit more exciting) chapter on the Martial Law years presided over by former President Ferdinand Marcos.
Buried by all the vitriol lobbed by a bunch of middle-aged balding grey-haired Ateneans at their fellow alumni happening to come from this generation who glibly struck an unfortunate pose beside former First Lady Imelda Marcos is the otherwise sensible view that, hey, these kids are entitled to form their own opinion about the political landscape today. The Jesuits did not train them to think for nothin’. I’ll defer to Oscar Franklin Tan who wrote in his Inquirer piece Alienating youth from Edsa…
The members of the Edsa generation must accept that the members of the next are perfectly entitled to form their own opinions regarding Edsa, and will do so whether or not they choose to contribute to this. Their perspective will increasingly be not about what happened but how—or even if—Edsa is relevant to them today, and validly and understandably so. Painful as it might be, they are likewise entitled to reject Edsa as an unfulfilled dream.
Thing is, this elder “Edsa generation” should recall the way things were back in the heady years between 1983 and 1986. As they donned their yellow shirts and waved the Loser salute, they were a force to reckon with — a bunch of kids back then who wouldn’t and couldn’t be told how and what to think by the old farts. Fast forward to today, and they are now the old farts presuming to tell the young guns what to think — that the Martial Law years were eeevvvilll years.
Old farts may take the perceived truth in that notion for granted. The trouble is, they assume that the youth think the same. Unfortunately they don’t. Those who lament how Filipinos have “forgotten” the purported “horrors” of the 1970s and say that the new generation of Filipinos need to be “reminded” of said horrors got it only 5 percent right. There is nothing to “remind” this new generation — because they never lived through the 1970s to begin with. Rather, the concept of the evil of the Martial Law years needs to be sold to them the way a car salesman would — by allowing them to kick the tires and take the product for a test drive.
And so, good luck with that sales pitch. How does the typical Aquino fan convince today’s skeptical kids to even at least have a taste of the Yellow Kool Aid? That’s the challenge faced by the Old Guard who remain loyal to the Aquino-Cojuangco clan today. Thanks to the disaster that was the presidency of Benigno Simeon ‘BS’ Aquino III (a disaster, that is, specially to all who are deeply-invested in that presidency), stepping up to that challenge has become just short of an impossibility.
It is made specially difficult by the ubiquity of social media today, on which are shared hundreds — even thousands — of photos of the way the Philippines looked back in the 1970s. Images of a country with cities that were leafy and traffic-free, populated by fresh-faced people frolicking in pristine parks form a stark contrast to the dark sooty Gothamesque Metro Manila of the 21st Century and the disaster-scorched barren hinterlands surrounding it populated by a destitute and broken people. Coming from even further back — to the 1950s and 1960s — are images of Filipinos standing proud as they behold the impressive arsenal that equipped what was once one of the mightiest armies in southeast Asia.
Worst of all, what makes it specially difficult for the Philippines’ aging nationalists to encourage Filipinos to salute the national colours with the same dignity and respect that harks back to the 50s, 60s, and 70s, is a Philippine President — BS Aquino himself — who would rather see his people salute his family’s yellow colours than stand up for the ol’ red-white-and-blue.
The tragedy that is “the Philippines”, indeed. It is a national tragedy that will forever come to be regarded as the legacy of the rule of the Aquino-Cojuangco clan and no longer that of the “evil” Martial Law years.
Saturday, July 19, 2014
Yes. Everyone but you knows they can. The human capacity to repair itself and to learn and grow is almost limitless. Repair connotes understanding why something is broken. If a house built in sandy foundation collapses and the owner rebuilds it in the same place without addressing the sandy foundation, it will collapse again. The damage done to our culture our spirit our national prude and our sense of self-worth over a 500-year non-stop brutal colonization was so severe it left us with foreign-based sense of self.
Almost every Filipino will agree to this false statements: "Americans are better than us". "Spanish and Europeans are better and more beautiful and more cultured than us". It is false in the sense that these clear facts were forced on us by these colonial masters. Not that we are somehow genetically inferior, genetically uglier, genetically dumber than they. When they lorded it over us they made every effort to eradicate everything that was good and beautiful snout us and our culture... creating a self-fulfilling prophecy that is now our national condition.
That national condition of inferiority is real but need not be permanent. It is obviously real given the fact that the Netherlands, a tiny nation of 17 million people has hundreds maybe thousands of world renowned artists, scientists, philosophers, writers, poets, doctors, etc. just in the last 300 years. The Philippines with 100 million people has almost none. It was made by the colonizers a cultural, intellectual, philosophical, artistic, economic, social wasteland.
We are a god-fearing people who fear god more than we love our own people. A people who understand overpopulation because we see its dire effects every day. But we're rolled up into a ball of immobilizing fear unable to take action against these irrational fears. We find it very difficult to rid ourselves of the vestiges of colonial control that are a ball-and-chain attached to our legs.
Now here is the one immutable fact. When it comes to pure intelligence. To capacity for creative thought and actions, we are no more or no less than Americans, Spanish or Dutch people. But they have intact cultures and intact sense-of-selves and are able to create and to dispense around the world the many fruits of their vast creative powers. They have their Goyas, their Rembrandts, etc. There isn't a single Filipino world-renowned pianist, cellist, violinist, There are a few in pop-culture. Only a few, a small handful of Lea Salongas and not much else.
Not because we lack the capacity. But only because the will has been beaten out of us by our past masters... and by our present masters who continue to use all the same tools of control tying them to our past masters. The peopl can and will cut those strings. It will not be pleasant. It will require another "Cry of Balintawak". It will require month upon unending month of "The Days of The Guillotine" when the people finally decide to take back control over their own miserable lives.
They were destroyed. Not completely but at least partially destroyed. An amputated leg or arm is a partial destruction that until recent medical advances, had catastrophic effects. Blindness is a partial destruction with catastrophic effects. A bullet in the brain can destructively change a person for life. Five hundred years of brutal colonization will result in a national Stockholm Syndrome where the mind warps and views the oppressor as its savior.
The Philippines is a dysfunctional nation. " It is our mindset, our mentality, our culture that is dysfunctional and need urgent reform". This statement is so obviously true that it cannot be denied. This statement generates two questions.
"How did it get this way?"
"Why did it get this way?"
These questions get to the heart of the issue that some of us have been harping on for so long. The Philippines is the one nation that suffered longest under brutal colonial rule. It suffers from a condition akin to the "Stockholm Syndrome" where the severely abused clings to the abuser and adapts himself into what he thinks the abuser wants him to be.
Everything native has been expunged from Philippine culture. Every Philippine cultural icon has been replaced by Spanish and American culture. This truth goes all the way into fundamental concepts of right and wrong. Fundamental concepts of art and beauty. The "mestiza" face has replaced the Filipina face as the standard of beauty.
Japanese, Chinese, Korean, Thai, Indonesian and Indian people outside their big cities can still be seen wearing traditional dresses. Musical and other local artistic forms are present in every other Asian culture... and almost completely absent in the Philippines. The Philippines has been subjected to cultural genocide by its two colonial masters.
The Philippines remains a colony. The Spanish imposed on the Philippine nation two separate and equal governing structures. The civil structure led by the Governor General and held in place by military force was under Madrid rule. That governing structure disappeared after the Spanish surrender. The second was a clerico-religious governing structure enforced by bishops and priests and was under Vatican rule (via Madrid). That colonial governing structure remains firmly in place.
The United States granted the Philippines nominal independence in 1946. But it kept "puppet-strings" in place that permitted Washington to move every part of the Philippines that was deemed important to the US under firm American control. This included the right to maintain extra-territorial military bases in the country that exceeded by much the Philippines own weak military infrastructure. The Philippines continues to be almost fully dependent on the United States economically, militarily and culturally.
We have to learn from other peoples who also suffered from "Stockholm Syndrome" under colonial or neo-colonial rule. In the 1960s African Americans began to develop their own cultural icons to bring back ethnic pride. "Black is Beautiful" was one such icon. The "Afro" look was another. A different cultural standard of beauty in music, the arts, fashion, etc. came out of "Black Pride". The Filipino has to develop "Filipino Pride" and cut himself loose from his attachment to the cultural icons of his colonial masters.
One of the most virulent Tagolog insults is "Puta ang ina mo". The word "puta" is a Spanish word. There isn't a Tagalog or Visayan or Hiligaynon word for "puta". From the fact there was no word to describe it one can conclude that prostitution as a business form did not exist prior to the Spanish conquest. This is not saying that the use of sexual favors to secure protection or advantage over others, did not exist. But the business of prostitution was one of those violent Hispano-American cultural abominations that came into being as a way of imposing cruel colonial power over the people.
"Your women are our playthings". Philippine women have to be instilled with pride. Even the many prostitutes need to be rehabilitated and brought back out of the depravity they are in and into the sunlight of a sane society. All such cruel structures of domination must be removed and destroyed.
Graft and corruption is an important part of the problem that must be addressed by the people. This may be the easiest part to address. Openly, visibly and publicly execute a few of the worst grafters. That's all that needs to be done to address that problem. Because the other problems to which I alluded to are much deeper and more ingrained and much less obvious. But their importance outweighs graft and corruption.
The Philippines is a beautiful country with some of the most beautiful, some of the kindest, some of the most generous people on earth. It ought not to be difficult to instill pride onto this race of people. The start-off point needs to be the cutting of all those strings that permits the colonial powers (the USA and the Vatican) to move their Philippine marionettes and make them dance to their tune at their say so.
The wealthy must invest their money in the Philippines. Anyone caught salting money abroad should be treated as the worst grafters are treated and must face the axman's wrath. Pride in the Philippines has to extend all the way into modern industrial and economic structures. Force capitalists "to make things in the Philippines because our people will not buy what is not made in the Philippines".
Nobody knew about the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) outside of Philippine President Benigno Simeon “BS” Aquino’s inner circle. Not even the members of Congress and the Senate knew the program existed until the President was forced to defend giving additional P50 million each to the Senators who convicted former Supreme Court Chief Justice Renato Corona in 2012. So, the question remains: what the heck did the President and his men mean when they said disbursing “savings” through DAP “was done in good faith”?
DAP is more of the result of the President’s reactive style of management as opposed to the more efficient style of being more pro-active. In his recent speech defending the DAP, he claimed to have been “taken aback by certain information given” to him hours before he was scheduled to deliver his 2011 SONA — like the one about DepEd, “only managing to complete 18 out of the 8,000 school buildings that they had targeted to build.”
First of all, isn’t it strange that the President’s staff would only brief him about the country’s state of affairs hours before he delivered the state of the nation address? Second, why didn’t his staff know about the problems his department would face like “problems with land, assessment issues, as well as the complex processes in our bureaucracy in building the schools” beforehand? He should have been aware of it while he was drawing up the blueprints for his projects.
Could the rumor be true that BS Aquino hardly has cabinet meetings at all? If true, that could explain why he doesn’t get briefed in a timely manner about what is going on in his area of responsibility. The contents of his speech seem to indicate so. He admits to being “surprised” and being clueless about the issues his cabinet members have to face.
In his speech explaining the use of DAP, BS Aquino confirmed that he was aware that they were dipping into funds that were not allowed by the law:
The Cabinet agreed, regarding their respective funds: Use it or lose it. If you cannot use the funds allotted for this year, clearly, those are savings. We are given the chance to extend, at the soonest possible time, those benefits that have immediate impact on our Bosses. In this way, benefits that may have been delayed are replaced by other benefits. Let us also remember that the government is at a deficit: We have to borrow funds for our projects. If we allow funds to go unused, then we would be paying interest for nothing.
Clearly, the Chief Executive’s problem is not the Judiciary’s ruling against his use of “savings” or DAP. His problem is his lack of planning and foresight. Had he not cancelled the projects initiated by the previous administration, like the Php 1.9 billion in flood control projects, not only would the Filipinos — his “bosses” — have benefited from it by now, he would have been enjoying taking the credit for it as he always does. As someone wisely mentioned, “BS Aquino lacks vision. Had he not abrogated former President Gloria Arroyo’s projects in 2010, either they fail or succeed; he can blame GMA or credit-grab!”
Indeed, lack of planning, lack of foresight and lack of vision defines BS Aquino’s administration. This is the only reason why they had to use so-called “savings” and transfer it from one department to another. In other words, they were overcompensating for under-spending at the beginning of his term. They also tried to right a wrong with another wrong.
After his speech, some of BS Aquino’s most rabid supporters who do not even understand the law are now openly expressing their anger towards the members of the Supreme Court. This is a result of BS Aquino’s seeming threat to ask Congress to intervene in the escalating conflict between the Executive’s interpretation of the law and the Judiciary’s. In fact, some members of Congress have already mobilized initiatives to undermine the independence of the Supreme Court:
Iloilo Representative Niel Tupas Jr., a member of the administration Liberal Party, filed House Bill 4738 seeking to repeal Presidential Decree No. 1949, which created the JDF, which Malacanang’s allies have derided as the “judicial pork barrel.”Last week, Ilocos Norte Representative Rodolfo Farinas also filed House Bill 4690, seeking accountability in the use of the JDF.
Again, lack of foresight seems to be motivating these lawmakers. They don’t realize that if they cripple the Judiciary, it can affect the Filipino people. Justice delayed is justice denied. There’s already a backlog of cases waiting to be heard by the Supreme Court. The last thing the Justices need is to be distracted by petty politics. Besides, removing the Supreme Court’s pork will not affect the Supreme Court Justices as much as removing the elected officials’ pork. The Justices do not need to buy votes or spend on campaigns to retain their positions so the impact shouldn’t be as shattering.
BS Aquino and his supporters now use Book VI, Chapter 5, Section 39 of the 1987 Administrative Code of the Philippines in defending DAP. They insist it allows the President to use savings to cover deficit in any other item of the regular appropriations. But unfortunately for them, the Administrative Code was issued while former President and Presidential mother, the late Cory Aquino “still had legislative power before Congress became operative. It antedates the 1987 Constitution” as per Constitutional expert, Joaquin Bernas. Meaning, the Constitution overrules the Admin Code.
The excuse that the Executive had no choice but to use DAP for “urgent” projects doesn’t really make sense because according to some senators, the Office of the President asked them to name their pet projects for the extra 50 million pesos that will be given to them as “incentive” for convicting Corona. Since the project was yet to be named at the time, then it surely wasn’t classified as “urgent”. To use BS Aquino’s analogy, there was no use parking at the no-parking area when the reason is not considered an “emergency”.
It is becoming clear to a lot of people that BS Aquino did not really have a sustainable economic policy prior to and after winning the Presidency. He and his men just needed to boost the economic growth rate as an attempt to define his legacy during his term. Sadly, boosting the economy through government spending is not a very sound policy. It does not create industries that will result in jobs for the unemployed. It does not even promote innovation that can attract foreign investors who can then provide additional jobs.
I’m glad it’s not my job to defend DAP. It would be hard to prove government spending benefited the people when people want to see tangible proof that it was spent wisely. The economic growth rate wasn’t even inclusive and the credit rating upgrade doesn’t mean anything to the average Filipino. It would be hard to explain giving a big chunk of it to Senators who they knew were giving funds to bogus NGOs.