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Why All the Fuss? We Knew They were Corrupt Anyway!

Initial list of Senators implicated by Janet Lim Napoles as having received kickbacks from her. Left to right, top row: Francis "Chiz" Escudero, JV Ejercito, Ramon "Bong" Revilla, Jr., Jinggoy Estrada, Juan Ponce Enrile. Bottom row: Vicente Sotto III, Loren Legarda, Aquilino "Koko" Pimentel III, Manuel Villar (ex-senator), Alan Peter Cayetano.

o 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. We also knew our Senators, congressmen, governors, mayors, Barangay chairmen, BIR and Customs officials, and our next-door neighbors were never totally on the up-and-up. And how did we know this? We knew it because we ourselves are as corrupt as all of them.

The sad truth is that we Filipinos are just as flawed and just as weak of character as the politicians we elect into office. We are not very forthright, we lie and cheat…and take the easy way out whenever we can. We choose to make money the fast, and “sleazy way,” rather than the slow and honest way. We even hold in the highest esteem people who are wealthy and ostentatious…never-mind if we know they're crooks.

So how can we Pinoys appear surprised that our lawmakers are now accused of receiving kickbacks from Janet Lim-Napoles and her criminal organization? Truth be told, if you pressed any “Juan-on-the-street” they would likely tell you that as far as they're concerned, all our politicians are corrupt. A few are just better at hiding their nefarious deeds than others.

Thus all the protestations by Senators Jinggoy Estrada, Bong Revilla, Juan Ponce-Enrile, even Miriam Defensor Santiago, Chiz Escudero, et.al., blend into a cacophony of white noise that we Pinoys over the years have learned to simply tune out.

And then we have the Aquino administration that is content to simply spin its wheels until the 2016 election rolls around. They're happy basking in the glory of pretending to go after big-time crooks in government. But the stark reality is that in the end, they will likely achieve next to nothing except pass on already “cold” cases to the next administration—cases that will likely end in acquittals. So, nothing really changes. President Benigno Aquino III is simply raising the hopes of Pollyannaish Filipinos who think that real change might actually happen in their lifetimes.

We saw something similar after the EDSA revolution when Filipinos were euphoric at having booted-out Marcos and his cronies, only to wake up to the sad reality that today the Marcoses and their cronies are all back and as rich and as powerful as ever.  Filipinos just have to accept the fact that in the Philippines, the more things change, the more they stay the same. And the Philippines will remain in this sad constant forever. Published 05/17/2014


RECENT EDITORIALS

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. Published 2/15/2015


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. Published 2/8/2015
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. Published 1/31/2015
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. Published 1/27/2015
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. Published 1/22/2015
Pope Francis Admonishes Pinoys to End Scandalous Inequalities

We had a feeling this was coming. In his first major speech in the Philippines, Pope Francis called for an end to 'scandalous inequalities' in the country. And what better example of a scandalous inequality is there than that a preposterously ridiculous wedding of Dingdong Dantes and Marian Rivera which was officiated by 8 bishops and 7 priests. In addition, this crass wedding featured a 12-foot high wedding cake, a 2-million-peso wedding gown with an exaggeratedly long train that seemed to go on forever...you get the picture. Published 1/16/2015
An Open Letter to Pope Francis; Please Read It Before Coming to the Philippines

Dear Pope Francis, your much anticipated visit to the Philippines is just a few days away. We expect that you will have been adequately briefed about the Philippines by the time you arrive. However, there might be a few things your Vatican handlers might have missed—or intentionally "forgot" to mention to you so we hope this letter reaches you in time for your historic visit. Before anything else, welcome! Published 1/9/2015

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