Chief Justice Artemio Panganiban might soon find himself under arrest,
arraigned and prosecuted because of a libel charge filed
against him by Ferdinand Marcos crony Herminio Disini. The “libelous act”
that Panganiban is accused of is writing an article for the Philippine Daily
Inquirer in 2011 that Disini alleges is an “irresponsible and malicious”
attack with regards to his involvement in the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant (BNPP)
during the martial law years. You can read Panganiban’s article titled:
“After 35 years, still languishing”
here and decide for yourself if it is
indeed “libelous” or if Philippine laws are once again being used by people
with money and power to muzzle the press.
But let us step back and
try to see things from a broader perspective. This article is after all, not
just about a Marcos crony and a former chief justice. During the 1986 EDSA
revolution when millions of Filipinos put their lives on the line and
literally faced down the tanks of General Fabian Ver, Cory Aquino became
president while Marcos and his ilk were sent packing. The dreams and
aspirations of the long-oppressed Filipino masses took flight with the
ascendancy of the country’s first female president. Mrs. Aquino had as well
the blessing and admiration of the entire world. She could have ushered in a
new era of unprecedented growth and prosperity for the Philippines.
In retrospect however, it
now appears that Cory Aquino achieved next to nothing. Not only was she
faulted for not even trying, according to her many detractors at the time,
she just didn’t seem to know anything. The acronym bandied about back then
to describe Mrs. Aquino in office was TWA—not the airline, it stood for
talagang walang alam (knows absolutely nothing). Had Mrs. Aquino despite her
limitations taken seriously the mandate the Filipino people thrust upon her,
she would have moved heaven and earth to bring to justice all those who in
one way or another were involved with
either the Marcoses or their unjust military regime. Instead, Mrs. Aquino
chose to kick the can down the road for another generation to deal with.
Little did she know then
that the person who might have to clean up the mess she refused to touch
would be her son, current President Noynoy Aquino (Pnoy). And in the nearly
two decades that the Marcoses and their cronies have been left untouched,
many of those once cowering figures now stand tall, emboldened once again
to not just put forward their own distorted version of history but to muzzle
those who dare expose their sordid past.
Former Chief Justice
Artemio Panganiban’s stellar achievements despite his humble beginnings
stand as a testament to his indomitable spirit. There is likely still a lot
of fight left in him. The question however is: what will the president do
about all this? Will Pnoy finish what his mother unfortunately never really
started? Or will he likewise kick the can even further down the road so that
in some distant misinformed future Ferdinand Marcos might even be seen as a
hero and his martial law regime as the best thing that ever happened to the
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.