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?”
We’ve all heard the saying “justice delayed is justice denied.” That maxim has been around since time immemorial. In fact the Pirkei Avot (Hebrew for “Ethics of the Fathers”) which dates back to the 1st century B.C. mentions an old rabbi saying that goes: “the sword comes into the world, because of justice delayed and justice denied." In 1215 A.D. a clause from the Magna Carta similarly declares that “to no one will we refuse or delay, right or justice."
Okay so she's George Clooney's wife, she's got great looks, a law degree and ambitious enough to make a name for herself apart from that of her superstar husband. Fair enough. So Amal Alamuddin Clooney decides to take on high profile cases of injustice around the world. Even better. But filing a complaint with the United Nations Human Rights Council on behalf of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo? What's up with that? Better do your homework Mrs. Clooney. It won't take long for you to realize that Arroyo is getting exactly what she deserves.
Manny Pacquiao Should Not Be Given a Tax Exemption
Senator Aquilino "Koko" Pimentel III has proposed a bill to grant Manny Pacquiao a special tax exemption for the income he will earn from his May 2nd boxing match with Floyd Mayweather Jr. Pimentel justifies his bill as a "fitting tribute" to the Filipino eight-division world champion adding that "Manny is now part of our history and of world sports history. Let’s give him this tax incentive in recognition to his invaluable efforts to promote boxing and the country around the world."
With Negotiators Like These on Our Team, Who Needs an Opposing Side?
What on earth happened to these two women—supposedly handpicked by the president himself to argue on behalf of the Philippine government in peace negotiations with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front—who now seem to be mouthpieces for the Moros? Have Secretary Teresita Deles, Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process and Professor Miriam Coronel-Ferrer, chair of the negotiating panel become mesmerized by the tough "macho" image the rebels project?
Why is the NBI Going After Those Who Uploaded the Sagonoy Video?
According to NBI Director Virgilio Mendez, they have identified the individuals who uploaded the video showing the coldblooded killing of PO2 Joseph Sagonoy. The cellphone video was purportedly taken by Muslim rebels during the Jan. 25, 2014 encounter between the Philippine National Police-Special Action Force and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front rebel group. The video shows a wounded Sagonoy who is shot twice in the head at close range.
Twice the Heroes—the SAF 44 Who Lost Lives in Mamasapano
The 44 members of the Philippine National Police-Special Action Force (SAF) who were brutally killed in Mamasapano, Maguindanao on January 25, 2015 are heroes twice over: first, they paid the ultimate sacrifice while serving their country; second, they exposed for all to see, the dangers the country will face if the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) is passed.
No More Bangsamoro, Period!
With each passing day, it is becoming increasingly clear that the idea of a Bangsamoro is a bad idea. Just as the Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain (MOA-AD) spearheaded by former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo was a bad idea (and declared unconstitutional in 2008 by the Supreme Court). Just as the failed Autonomous Region for Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) during the 1990s was a bad idea.
After the Mamasapano Massacre, Plans for a Bangsamoro Must Be Scrapped
What happened in Mamasapano, Maguindanao on January 25 is a "game changer"—make no mistake about it. Reality as we saw it before this event is not the reality we see now...everything is different; everything has "changed. When the Philippine National Police's (PNP) elite team known as the Special Action Force or SAF set out to arrest Zulkifli bin Hir alias Marwan, it had actionable intelligence that the Malaysian fugitive was hiding in the town of Mamasapano. Marwan, an expert bomb maker, is a core member of the terrorist group Jemaah Islamiyah.
President Aquino Should Fly to Saudi Arabia and Pay His Last Respects to King Abdullah
Presidents and prime ministers, kings and queens; from Prince Charles and Prime Minister David Cameron of Britain, President Francois Hollande of France, President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi of Egypt, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey and many other heads of state from all corners of the globe have gone or are headed to Riyadh to pay their respects to the late King Abdullah. Even U.S. President Barack Obama cut short his state visit to India to fly to Saudi Arabia.
After the Pope's Visit: What We Filipinos Now Must Do
We put on a good show for Pope Francis. He loved it; we loved it; the world loved it. Now the long and painful task of bringing about the changes the pope asked for begins. Start with the Philippine Catholic Church. It should refocus its efforts towards the poor. As we wrote in previous editorials, many priests and bishops see themselves as members of the rich and privileged class. They feel more at home in country clubs and dining in expensive restaurants, than they do helping the poor who live in the squatter communities that dot most cities in the Philippines.