ocieties the world over
have always been fascinated by wealth. And nowhere is this more evident than
in the Philippines today. In fact, Filipinos seem to have gone beyond
fascination to actual adoration of anyone with a lot of money. And such
adulation is at some level, understandable. In a country where corruption is
pervasive and everything—as well as everyone—appears to be for sale, money
will put you above the law. Unlike countries such as the United States where
even a billionaire could end up behind bars, in the Philippines, the rich
get away with murder—literally.
Therefore why not be rich? Makes
sense doesn’t it? So a vast number of Pinoys make it a point to get
rich—quick! And there lies the problem. It is easier to make money
illegally rather than legally. Break the law, stack the deck, grease the
palms, buy off the regulators, give kickbacks; the ways to accumulate wealth
the wrong way are endless. Sadly, the number of Filipinos making money
illegally appears to have increased alarmingly over the years.
It is therefore only
logical that not just the media but the average Juan and Juana start asking
rich people how they made their fortunes. For example how was Bureau of
Customs clerk Paulino Elevado IV whose take home pay was less than P6,000.00
a month able to drive around in a Porsche? Instead of being awed, Elevado’s
friends and relatives should have asked him how he managed such a feat.
Another example was Ferdinand Marcos. According to his wife Imelda, they had
a trillion dollars in their Citibank New York bank accounts. Assuming this
was not another one of Imelda’s fantasies, the public should have asked: how
did a poor boy from Batac who supposedly had a full-time job running an
entire country manage to amass more wealth than say Warren Buffett, a
renowned businessman who works full-time at it and employs an army of
top-flight investment advisers to help him out? How was Marcos able to
out-Buffett, Buffett—singlehandedly, and all the while doing it on the side?
Instead of being impressed
with the fancy new car, or the Rolex watch, or the opulent mansion of a
friend or relative, Pinoys ought to be asking them how they managed to
afford those luxuries. In fact the whole country should be asking the same
question of all these sudden millionaires who gain untold wealth without
anyone having the slightest clue of how they do it. The Philippine press
ought to be leading the charge instead of lionizing the rich as most media
outfits do today.
In the context of
Philippine society today, a healthy dose of skepticism towards individuals
who are making tons of money is not uncalled for. These folks need to pass
some kind of “acid test” before they can be embraced by the public. And
public servants who make money while in office ought to be hauled off to
The Philippines will need
to put in place exceptionally tough laws to combat corruption given the lack
of ethics and morality in our society. And until that day comes when the
country has been effectively cleansed of it, you and I and everyone else
need to be asking the rich this question: “how did you get to be so rich?”
While searching for the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 on March 11, 2014, a Philippine Air Force plane flying over the Kalayaan Island Group in the West Philippine Sea sighted Chinese reclamation activity in the Mabini Reef of the Kalayaan Island Group within the 200 mile Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of the Philippines. His aerial photographs were transmitted to the Philippine government for analysis.
For those who have been following the Janet Lim-Napoles PDAF/NGO* scandal these past months, it is easy to get caught up in all the rhetoric—the words and phrases repeated day after day. Words like "ten billion" or "fifteen billion" have turned into something akin to "gray" background noise. Words devoid of any real meaning or significance. So let us try to put back some meaning into those trite and often-repeated phrases in order to better understand some of the far-reaching ramifications of Napoles' actions.
How could they not have known that the Napoles NGOs were fake?
With Senator Bong Revilla already in police custody in Camp Crame and Senators Jinggoy Estrada and Juan Ponce Enrile set to join him any day now, people need to start asking tough questions going forward. The privilege speeches of the senators along with the histrionics that accompanied them are thankfully now over so we can all address this issue more objectively.
The Self-Perpetuating Elite of the Philippines
In an essay published in the July 1968 issue of the American magazine Foreign Affairs, a novice Philippine senator described his country as “a land in which a few are spectacularly rich while the masses remain abjectly poor. . . . a land consecrated to democracy but run by an entrenched plutocracy… a people whose ambitions run high, but whose fulfillment is low and mainly restricted to the self-perpetuating elite…a land of privilege and rank – a republic dedicated to equality but mired in an archaic system of caste.”
PHL Legislators Implicated in the Napoles PDAF Scam Face Definite Jail Time...Maybe
In the United States former four-star General and until recently Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric Shinseki was forced to resign as head of the VA by the ongoing healthcare scandal that has enveloped that agency. While one can safely assume that Shinseki was not involved in the actually transgressions being investigated, the fact that he headed the agency meant he had command responsibility over its entire staff. And their wrongful acts, whether he knew about them or not, cost him his job. That is the way things work in properly functioning democracies. In the Philippines however, things tend to get a little unusual.
Why All the Fuss? We Knew They were Corrupt Anyway!
So finally the cat is out of the bag, so to speak. But we Pinoys should not be surprised at all. We all know how corrupt our country is. Even before former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo was accused of electoral sabotage and the misuse of public funds in 2011; even before Joseph “Erap” Estrada—an earlier president was convicted of plunder by the Sandiganbayan in 2007; even before Ferdinand Marcos, a president-turned-dictator, was booted out of the country along with his family and cronies twenty-eight years ago; we Pinoys knew they were corrupt.
The Case of Denise Cornejo and Cedric Lee, a Litmus Test for Pnoy and Philippine Justice
Now that the star attraction in the alleged Vhong Navarro rape incident is in police custody, the upcoming trial will be a litmus test for the Aquino administration as well as the Courts. The almost universal perception is that Philippine justice is broken and does not work. Laws are applied inequitably with the wealthy and powerful living almost above the law, while the common "tao" finds himself at the losing end of cases that usually drag on for years.
Obama's Visit a Shot in the Arm for a Struggling Ally
After essentially showing the American Military the door in the early '90s, Filipinos have of late come to the realization that they need their "Uncle Sam" more than they thought they did. And back then the United States was also more than happy to oblige as their Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) Commission had been closing down hundreds of military installations all across the USA.