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Saturday, February 13, 2016

The Supreme Court Ruling on Enrile shames the Philippines

Posted by Joe America on August 19, 2015 
enrile inquirer
[Photo credit: Inquirer]

What are we to think when a man who, by all accounts, is too ill to be in jail can get released from custody and return to the senate as a hero. Never mind that evidence suggests he stole taxpayer money. He is held up as a hero. [See Inquirer: “Enrile returns to senate”]

Well, I understand the Supreme Court ruling to be a political ruling. That is pretty clear when we observe that the eight justices who approved his release are Arroyo appointees, who by all accounts appear to deal in the arena of favor and entitlement rather than law, and that the four who opposed his release are by all accounts straight and honest interpreters of the law who hold a vision of the Philippines founded on the highest principles.
  • For shame, Supreme Court, to hold to such cheap values, for you are only as good as the lowest amongst you.
What this ruling says is that the Philippines remains a backwater swamp of entitlement and favor, of low values and low principles and low expectations. It celebrates those who can “get away with it”!
“Due process!” the Enrile camp will shout. “We are entitled to legal due process!” 
Yes, Senator, you are entitled to use every trick in the book. every tactic, every bribe or cajole, every scheming lie to avoid accountability. The accused seldom admit to their error, and are not expected to abandon legal due process. No one does, anywhere.
But you took it one step too far.
You are like the Filipino at the airport who uses a wheel chair to gain prompt, personal attention on boarding, and upon arrival at his destination, leaps from to his feet to hurry first off the airplane. You are exactly like that, as to values and sense of entitlement. It is a sense, like the Binay’s, that others are beneath you, there to be gamed.
A senator who pushes into the front of the line.
  • For shame, Senator Enrile, to play such crass games and make fools of the court and the people.
Jesse Robredo would never push to the front of the line.
What is dearly missing in the Philippines is the principle that one individual’s professional reputation defines all members of the profession. It is a principle of dignity, of ethics. It is higher, more demanding, than the law in most modern democracies. It promotes groups of people as substantial, as people of integrity.
The Senate of the Philippines carries with it the integrity of a thief. The entire body’s reputation attaches to the worst of its members. The Senate has yet to chair its Ethics Committee to deal with the three senators accused of plunder. It does not have the character and courage to deal with its own miscreants.  The Senate of the Philippines is stained with corruption. With tacit support of corruption. It has all the ethical fiber of an accused plunderer.
Indeed, most senators seem to be cheering Senator Enrile’s release. They welcome him warmly back into the fold of . . .
of what?
Of clowns and crooks, of professionals devoid of any sense that the people deserve a higher level of dignity from their elected officials.
  • For shame, Senate, that you allow the integrity of your esteemed body to fall to the lowest level.
Here is the way democracies that are not corrupt structure their accountabilities:
  • Ethics, as the highest value. National or professional integrity that represents who we are, as a nation.
  • Laws, the next highest value. The rules that promote well being in the community.
  • Individual behavior, the third highest value. A personal sense of accountability and integrity; equality.
Here’s the way the Philippines structures things:
  • Individual behavior, preferential to the privileged; weak sense of accountability and integrity.
  • Laws, the games attorneys play to escape accountability, aided by political courts susceptible to administrative or legalistic loopholes, favors and bribery.
  • Ethics, a sense of pride in national integrity that does not exist.
It is this missing sense of ethical pride that is absolutely astounding. There seems to be no comprehension of the principle that a team is only as strong as its weakest member. Indeed, “we the people” seem to accept plunder as a rightful privilege for the entitled. We put up with it! Some cheer it, the exhilaration of escaping the law!
  • For shame, Philippines, for failing to demand higher of your public officials.
The Supreme Court has just played the people for fools. Senator Enrile has played the people for fools. The Senate persists in playing the people for fools.
The question is, how long will people allow their own integrity to be rubbed face-first into the mud?
If you cannot connect the dots here, between these escapades and the presidential election, then . . . indeed, as is true in all democracies:
The people get what they deserve.

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