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Will Ruby Tuason’s Revelations Make a Difference? Remember This Is the Philippines

nother whistleblower Ruby Tuason will soon testify before the Department of Justice, and the Philippine Senate. Ruby Tuason back from the United States to testify against senators involved in the Janet Napoles-PDAF scandalAnd probably before the Ombudsman, the Batasan committees, the Sandiganbayan and other courts as well. Her appearances will likely involve high drama, moving testimony, and bombshell revelations that will be plastered across the front pages of Philippine dailies and reverberate throughout social media.

But will it change anything? That seems to be the sixty-four thousand dollar question. Filipinos have seen this so many times before. A few "big time" whistleblowers in the recent past were: Mary “Rosebud” Ong, who in 2001 accused Sen. Panfilo Lacson, then-head of the Philippine National Police, of involvement in drug trafficking and kidnap for ransom activities; In 2002 Equitable Bank vice president in charge of trust accounts Clarissa Ocampo, testified during President Joseph Estrada’s impeachment trial that she saw him sign bank documents under the name Jose Velarde; In 2007 Jun Lozada president of the Philippine Forest Corp. along with NEDA director general Romulo Neri, and businessman Jose “Joey” de Venecia III of Amsterdam Holdings, Inc. testified before the Philippine Senate that President Gloria Arroyo, First Gentleman Mike Arroyo, and COMELEC Chairman Benjamin Abalos, Sr. were involved in a kickback scheme involving billions of pesos in what became known as the NBN-ZTE scandal.

They were all riveting dramas in their time. Filipinos everywhere soaked them up—but nothing happened. None of the above cases have ever been resolved with finality. Yesterday’s whistleblowers: Clarissa Ocampo (top left), Mary “Rosebud” Ong (top right), Jun Lozada (bottom left), Jose “Joey” de Venecia III (bottom right)Public interest faded, people moved on and Philippine lawyers went to work gumming up the “works” to keep those cases pending in legal limbo forever.

That’s how it is in the Philippines—justice doesn’t work. Nothing is resolved, no one is punished, the nation just shrugs its shoulders and goes on with life waiting for the next big scandal to break. And Filipino lawyers have become so good at obfuscation and twisting reality that like master magicians they can make even a mountain of evidence disappear. So no one should be surprised if at some point in the future those now accused of the Maguindanao massacre are set free.

As we pointed out in a previous article, Philippine justice is for the most part non-existent, inutile, a sham. All Filipinos know this. Thus, why try to make money the hard, honest way when you can do it the easy, dishonest way and get away with it.

So the question is will the testimony of Ruby Tuason result in the conviction of any of the senators involved in the PDAF scandal? Don’t count on it. Based on the past, nothing will happen. One of those accused might even become president of the country one day. And Ruby Tuason’s bombshell revelations will end up as just another obscure footnote in Philippine history. Published 02/10/2014


RECENT EDITORIALS

Napoles PDAF/NGO Scandal: What is Ten or Fifteen Billion Pesos Really Worth?

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. Published 06/30/2014


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. Published 06/21/2014
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.” Published 06/14/2014
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. Published 06/03/2014
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. Published 05/17/2014
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. Published 05/06/2014
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. Published 04/29/2014
We Treasure Our Sierra Madre

In the1948 John Houston movie, The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, three destitute Americans working as gold prospectors mining the Sierra Madre mountains in Mexico are confronted by bandits posing as mounted police (“Federales”). When they are asked to produce their badges, the chief bandit's response is classic: “Badges? We don’t need no stinking badges!” Published 04/20/2014


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