The next time you well up with outrage at the sight of a Filipino pissing on a public sidewalk, think of this day, the 16th of June 2016.
The Philippines after all is not and never has been a nation of laws. This was proven yet again today when the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) en banc voted to accept the statement of contributions and expenditures (SOCE) of the Liberal Party (LP). The submission of the LP of their SOCE on June 14, way past the non-extendable June 8 deadline, was in violation of COMELEC rules applicable to the 2016 elections.
Section 2 of Rule 10 issued by the COMELEC states that there is absolutely no provision to allow an extension of the 8th of June deadline for filing of the SOCE…
The 08 June 2016 deadline shall be final and non-extendible. Submissions beyond this period shall not be accepted.
According to COMELEC mouthpiece James Jimenez, the decision to break this rule was “backed by laws and precedent.”
The trouble with this defense of the COMELEC’s bizarre decision is that the rule that makes the June 8 deadline non-extendable was implement precisely because of those very precedents Jimenez cites. Indeed, the rule statement goes further to support this (boldface added by author for emphasis)…
COMELEC Resolutions Nos. 9849 and 9873, Minute Resolutions Nos. 13-0775 and 13-0823 are hereby repealed, insofar as they allowed the belated submission, amendment and/or correction of campaign finance disclosure statements and reports and the imposition of late penalties for the 2013 National and Local Elections.
In short, the rule statement itselfrecognises these precedents and, in doing so, incorporates these as a key aspect of the whole point of the inclusion of the non-extendability clause.
The argument that cites “precedents” is therefore not valid.
Nonetheless (recognising too that few Filipinos are likely to posses the brains to grasp that point), the more important implications of these and other such en banc rulings we need to highlight is that Philippine society remains consistent to its character as a nation where the rules don’t matter.
In allowing every incident like this (whether big or small) to slide, Filipinos progressively lose any trace of righteous ascendancy to express outrage over the violation of any sort of applicable rule or law in whatever endeavour or issue they pursue. Next time we curse or flash the bird when we get cut off by a jeepney, we should remember this day — the day when the COMELEC utterly failed to live by its own rules — and resign ourselves to the reality that the Philippines is a society where crime pays.
For that matter, Filipinos have lost any right to criticise President-Elect Rodrigo Duterte by citing allegations that he violated “human rights” laws to effect the enviable peace and order his home city of Davao is world-renowned for today. They have lost the right to criticise Sal Panelo for violating parking rules. Filipinos will now look like absolute hypocrites when they call for the jailing of pork barrel thieves. Why? Because, guess what: In the Philippines, summary killing of criminals, parking in no-parking zones, and bribing senators with pork barrel funds all have precedent. To use the logic of the COMELEC en banc, these crimes are therefore all excusable.
It is therefore a safe bet that the Philippines will remain a Jeepney Nation over the foreseeable future. Jeepneys represent everything that is wrong with Philippine society — because they are an embodiment of a lack of an appreciation, regard, and respect of the benefits of rules-based systems. In that regard, all of the outrage over dysfunctional train systems go out the window as well. Trains are anathema to a nation where rules don’t matter. Filipinos deserve to be victims of the horrendous traffic that is the single biggest manifestation of their collective disregard and lack of appreciation for the rule of law and the essential disciplines required to make rules-based systems work.
Filipinos should therfore not be so precious over reports that drug traffickers and criminals are now being rounded up and shot by Philippine police. There are rules, after all, that recommend that these crooks are entitled to enjoy a presumption of innocence until proven otherwise. But, you know, that’s just another “rule” that is meant to be broken.
As the Dalai Lama say…
Know the rules well, so you can break them effectively.
Presumably, the honourable officers of the COMELEC know their own rules all too well. Then again, President Rodrigo Duterte is a lawyer and a seasoned prosecutor. He also knows the law quite well.
And in regard to Leni Robredo’s promise to her fans to help keep her President honest? Good luck with that. That’s a tough expectation of a “vice president” who presumes to assume her office on the back of massive electoral fraud and by virtue of a bald violation of election rules.