ON THE JOB is a Job Well-Done
Exploding onto the scenes, the movie thriller On the Job proved to be a superbly directed movie, garnering well-deserved recognition both locally and internationally. Yes, it is quite well-known in the Philippines that such methods of crime and extreme political corruption is prevalent, but scenes were depicted with such authenticity and ferocity that the film was still able to shock its viewers at every turn and keep its audience in suspended awe all throughout nevertheless.
The plot was simple and straightforward, but it captured in depth how the lives of the various characters intricately intertwined with one another. They may have lived separate and different lives, but their actions greatly caused domino effects, spilling into each other’s lives. On one side, representing the villains, there was the tandem between middle-aged and seasoned hit-man Mario or Tatang and his young protégée Daniel, inmates paid generously to murder specific targets, and then brought back to prison to sever all leads and evidence. They are also allowed a few days “off” from jail which they spend with family, an added benefit which indeed made their job as contract killers even more attractive. Then on the other side of the coin, representing the good guys, there was the unlikely team-up of street-smart and honest policeman SP01, Sgt Acosta, rarely promoted due to a corrupt police system, and rising star NBI officer Francis Coronel Jr. who marries into a prominent, yet shady political family. Both idealistically are out to seek justice and bring down the central mastermind, General Pacheco. Surrounding all these characters are their family members who provide color and rationale to the reasons behind their actions, as well as complicating matters.
The performance of the main characters was impeccable and highly-dimensional as well; their dedication to the cause of the film made apparent onscreen. As the movie progressed, I found myself sympathizing with the hit-men, even to a point of respect, as the film touched on the struggles of their personal lives and their desire to support their poverty-stricken loved ones. You will begin to view Tatang and Daniel as not simply cold-blooded murderers, but men who have had their miserable lot in life and have chosen a path of crime to survive. They are merely pawns of a much larger-scale web of crime. At the same time, viewers will also want Sgt Acosta and Francis Coronel Jr. to succeed in their quest and uncover the buried truth behind the countless merciless murders. You will genuinely feel their frustrations as they face layers of bureaucracy and political obstruction in the justice system and investigation process. Their relationship with their families also becomes strained due to their commitment to justice, a sacrifice they chose to make. The only character in the movie which you will feel a stark black-and-white hatred for, is General Pacheco, a representation of pure calculating evil, with no ounce of goodness shown at all throughout the film.
THE DARK SIDE
What makes the movie convincing and relatable to the eyes of the Filipino viewer is that justice does not prevail in the end, and that such social ills persist, and are even worsened. Tragically, it is the good-hearted, competent and courageous NBI officer who is murdered in broad daylight before evidence can be brought forth. It is the General instead who strengthens his control over most government units and over his army of scared and blinded allies. Sgt. Acosta does not receive the same fate as his partner but continues to live a sad, thankless life alone; he is relieved from his post which he has served dutifully for many years and is also estranged from his family. However what came out as the biggest tragedy of all for me was the complete transformation of Tatang into an evil archetype, when he chose to murder Daniel, and even completely abandon his daughter in the end after killing his girlfriend’s lover right in front of them all. He betrayed the remaining people who cared about him. It struck the biggest chord for me projecting a message of despair that even the strongest of men eventually will lose hope and turn their back on anything good if they continue to be at the mercy of abusive systems and people.
SNAPSHOT OF THE PHILLIPPINES
Watching the film is like watching actual players in Philippine politics and the private sector as well come to life. We have seen good and honest leaders fail countless times, and the corrupt officials continuing to reign free and mightily in our country. Those who attempt to fight the good fight and go against the tide will either fall victim, or eventually become the same type of people they used to fight against. However, similarly to the movie, it is not just a plain black-and-white contrast of personalities, as real-life players in our country also contain more dimensional character traits.It is hard to truly segregate any one person into a strict category of good and bad, but instead we must objectively study them and the situation and be aware of the whole picture at hand. Lastly, more than just a depiction of crime in the Philippines, the movie portrays our many social injustices, deeply rooted in Filipino mentality, culture, religion and family values, which many times cloud our judgment and further perpetrate crime.
Down Came the Rain
In the Bible, for forty days, and forty nights, God tormented the earth with the fiercest torrential rains. It was his punishment to humanity for the evil that had enveloped the world, sparing only Noah and his family, and the plants and animals. God wanted the world to begin anew, for after which, he promised Noah that he would never again exact the same punishment. But then again, has mankind really learned their lesson?
It hasn’t been even close to forty days; yet plunged in water, Metro Manila, Central and Northern Luzon are presently experiencing one of the heaviest continual rainfalls to hit since Ondoy. As of yesterday, the number of people affected has already reached 600,000 and still rising. For the more fortunate, we are at least in the safety and comfort of our homes with slight flooding outdoors. For our less fortunate brothers and sisters however, they have lost their loved ones, homes and valuables, and fighting for mere survival. Truly, our hearts and prayers go out to them. What can we citizens concretely do? Yes, as an immediate response, we can give donations or do some volunteer work to get them by in the meantime. However, once the dust settles, shall we keep on waiting for these tragedies to strike before we attack the roots of the problem? Prevention best supercedes damage-control.
Tropical storm Maring seemed to have occurred in tandem with two important events, where firstly, is the outbreak on the Janet Lim-Napoles Expose. Her and her family’s petty and lavish lifestyle juxtaposed against the conditions of those poverty-stricken is all the more darkly contrasted. We frown in disgust and explode in anger, as the news and social networks never fail to produce specific up-to-date reports as well as attacks, puns and jokes on her. It comes natural for us to say that these billions in money-laundered funds should have been put to substantial use instead, like for example, for the clean-up of esteros, sewage and drainage systems, or in evacuation and relief centers. These plundered billions not only takes away resources and programs for the less fortunate, but also robs honest tax payer’s hard-earned money. And for what? To fund the Napoles’s hundreds of bank accounts under different aliases, as well to purchase numerous local and offshore properties, coupled with the most high-end automobiles. Certainly, it takes a most wicked character to be able to stomach such greed.
Secondly, tomorrow Aug 21st, marks the 30th Death Anniversary of Ninoy Aquino. As it ought to be a day of commemoration of one of our most influential heroes, it should be also celebrated as a time for reflection on the nation’s true status. Perhaps, yet again, Ninoy is reminding us that his painful years in solitary confinement and ultimately, death should not have been in vain.
Out Came the Sun
Citizens have already assumed for a fact that this kind of corruption has been rampant since the Marcos Era onwards, yet what makes this certain scandal “different”? First of all, we are starting to see many scandals in the Philippines in the recent years, gaining major media coverage. The Napoles scam is in a sense not drastically special, but its nationwide uproar can be attributed to the fact that we now live in an age of accessibility and instant gratification. Not just through TV or radio, but there are various online social media platforms where all kinds of people, of all ages and walks of life can make themselves aware, and at the same time, freely create and express their opinions in simultaneous open spaces. Secondly, of course it is by no means that the absurd amounts and percentage of “kickback” brazenly money-laundered by Janet Lim-Napoles via bogus NGOs could simply be shrugged off. The crime is also easy for all kinds of citizens to comprehend and make quick conclusions about; thus able to gain quick interest nationwide. Moreover the manner in which this information was released to the public, was through their former employee Benhur Luy, whom the Napoles family had kidnapped for many months- an added ingredient that indeed satiated the Filipino appetite for certain drama.
Lastly and most importantly, I’d like to think that the reaction to Napoles is a sign that Filipino citizens are slowly waking up and opening their eyes to the shameful crimes being committed everywhere. It also seems that Filipinos are finally developing a conscience and backbone. The timing of the expose is coming about when people are just tired and really clamoring for change. Through this scandal, it is the perfect avenue and example by which citizens can demand for concrete reforms in the government. The next key strategy is to be able to somehow translate this anger and integrity into action. At the least, we can use media as a powerful tool.
Tip of the Iceberg
Of course it is easy to put the blame on Janet Lim-Napoles when all the evidence and testimonies point to her as the supreme mastermind. She is indeed, guilty as hell. Let us just make sure that these fiery emotions do not burn out, as we sometimes tend to lose interest in one issue and callously move on towards the next “uso” issue. Filipinos tend to act in a mob mentality when identifying a “victim” to pindown, only to later on forget and forgive, such as: the Maguindanao Massacre, Rico Puno, Corona, GMA, Mike Arroyo, Erap, etc to name a recent few.
Also, let us be vigilant. Napoles represents simply the tip of the iceberg of what is happening in the country. This is not to vindicate her of her sins, but again, it is easy to pinpoint her, as she is made to be the sacrificial lamb in this witch hunt of sorts, while there are still many other Fat Cats benefiting from these misused Pork Barrel funds. As in war, the first to die are always the foot soldiers, but those who are really calling the shots are still behind enemy lines, further protected by an army of pawns. Let us not forget the other perpetrators in this Pork Barrel scam as further reports emphasize senators Juan Ponce Enrile, Jinggoy Estrada and Bong Revilla as alleged recipients as well in these plundered funds.
When Erap Estrada ran for the Presidency in the 2009 Elections, and came as far as to emerge as the closest runner-up to our current President Noynoy Aquino, Philippine politics had definitely stamped itself as a laughingstock to the world. Only in the Philippines can a convicted plunderer actually make a hair-raising near victory. Many assumed that Villar would be the more notorious contender against Aquino, but citizens watched in horror as Erap surprisingly trailed ever so close behind. In the first place, Erap should not have been allowed to run a second time for president. Our Constitution clearly states that a President can only hold office for one 6-year term and cannot run again. It is not like the United States for example, where the president can be re-elected for another 4 years once their first term is over.
Again, this issue goes hand in hand with when then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo pardoned an imprisoned Erap prior to the 2009 Elections, and yes of course, for something in return. It is very ironic that the same person who eventually had him imprisoned for plunder in 2000, became the same person to have him pardoned thereafter. It became the agreement for him to run against Aquino, defeat him in the Presidential elections, and by therefore allowing herself protection should Erap become President, as Noynoy was steadfast in his anti-corruption campaigns-beginning with GMA herself . It is not shocking that GMA was able to easily manoeuvre herself around her pawns in the Supreme Court to approve such an unconstitutional act, and actually come up with a justifiable, legal explanation to the public. Fortunately, Cory Magic was stronger than most people expected, and Erap was pushed back into the shadows. Well, momentarily only.
Just when we thought we had already fallen into the deepest depths of international humiliation in 2009, Erap Estrada bounces back into the political limelight this 2013 elections as the newly elected Manila mayor, defeating the incumbent and his former ally, Alfredo Lim. Erap was able to sell a dream of drastic change and rejuvenation for the city of Manila, and Manila dwellers bought every piece of it.
Clearly, Erap’s charm had once again warmed its way to the hearts of the masses, and sadly for us more informed voters, it is apparent that his political influence is far from waning away. As I have said in older posts, Erap Estrada possesses the key ingredients as perhaps one of the most successful politicians in Philippine history. He has shown over and over again that he is here to stay. His past sins are always forgotten or deemed unimportant, laws are bent in his favour, wealthy cronies continue to back him up, and his relevance to the majority of our population has stood the test of time. Walang kupas.
The Likes of Nelson Mandela, Aung Sang Suu Kyi and Ninoy Aquino
To our masa voters, Erap’s charismatic speeches and golden visions are amazing to hear, as he staunchly promises of a new, revitalized Manila, clean of corruption and bursting at the seams with great job opportunities. However again, to the more informed voters, they know all too well that his declarations are lies and empty promises masked in superfluous, ardent words.
Erap’s comeback to political office was marked by his highly publicized oath-taking last Sunday, July 30, 2013. More than just motherhood statements of a great future, Erap’s speech splashed headlines everywhere as he compared his political struggles to some of the most revered political figures of the century. He proclaimed: “Kung ako man ay ex-convict ito ay dahil sa aking prinsipyo. I feel that I am in good company with Nelson Mandela of South Africa… Aung San Suu Kyi of Myanmar, and our own Sen Ninoy Aquino who was also convicted by a military court.”
Words can’t fully describe how disgusting and light years away from any bit of truth his comparisons were. It is hard to tell whether Erap knows in his conscience that he has committed large-scale crimes and is merely washing his hands clean, or if he is just truly sick and delusional.
Something that the three mentioned great leaders all have in common is their effective and inspiring peaceful resistance against a violent, abusive, prejudice, and power-hungry government. Amidst overwhelming odds, these heroes stood their ground, even if it meant harsh imprisonment, forgetting any personal ambitions or dreams, and being away from their loved ones permanently. Nelson Mandela, the apartheid dismantler, Aung Sang Suu Kyi, “The Lady” against the Burmese junta, and our very own Ninoy Aquino, the Martial law fighter, are historical beacons of justice and peace, and for Erap to elevate himself to their level has completely belittled their remarkable efforts. One can’t even liken Erap to a regular law-abiding citizen, for truth of the matter is, he should be likened to a common criminal. Erap’s campaigns always circle around the main point of he being the protector of the poor, whereas in reality, he outright stole from the Filipino people.
On the political scale, Erap most definitely stands on the far opposite end of the spectrum. He went through an impeachment trial because he had in fact plundered from the country he deemed to care about, and not because he advocated anything substantial. Many of his dubious dealings surfaced simultaneously throughout his administration, but it was the allegations of Chavit Singson in 2000 that really blew the lid wide open. Singson, a former crony who was later double-crossed by Erap himself, accused Erap of receiving Php400million as payoff from illegal gambling profits and Php5million in “protection money” from the illegal numbers game, jueteng, every month. Singson is not known for having a sterling reputation himself, but his bold statements definitely shook the walls of Malacanang, and he made it his crusade to see this fight through. Fortunately, impeachment proceedings took place, becoming one of the most watched televised trials ever. That in itself is another story.
Erap’s administration was filled with so much hocus-pocus activity that nothing good can be credited from his two-year stint as President. To name a few, let us also not forget how Erap was repeatedly pointed as the mastermind of the double murder case of his PR agent Bubby Dacer and driver Emmanuel Corbito for supposedly knowing more damning information against Erap. To this day, the case remains unsolved.
In addition to his rapoire as a convicted plunderer and accused murderer, Erap is a well-known gambler, drunkard and womanizer. Erap was known to have numerous late-night drinking sessions with the underbelly and white-collar hoodlums of society, the “Midnight Cabinet” as they were called. Any potential money-making scheme, anywhere Erap smelled a possible profit he could sink his greedy teeth into, he would pursue at any cost. Let us not forget how Erap went as far as to manipulate the stock market to make huge profits on his and his cronies’s shares of BW Resources, a small gaming company listed in the PSE. When it comes to his personal life as well, Erap is very flippant about his many mistresses, that he has become the icon of adultery in our supposed very Catholic and religious nation. Furthermore, Erap has been characterized as lazy and unintelligent - surely the best role model for our bright and boisterous youth out there with many big dreams of their own.
"Walang kaibigan, walang kumpare, walang kamag-anak"
Erap Estrada stands for everything that is wrong with our country. Everything he has promised in the past, and now present is the total opposite of his actions. He, his family, his many mistresses and cronies continue to benefit from his seat in power. How is it that we continue to choose a leader who does not even possess bare minimum of values that we can look up to or aspire to be?
And the countdown begins- less than a month remains before we see a new pool (or the same pool) of senators take their seat of power. We see the mudslinging increase as well as skeletons in the closet being dug up deeper as the finish line looms closer. All the excitement is abuzz, and it ought to be true that the Philippines probably has the most interesting line of senatoriables every time, whether they are new or old timers.
Exercise Your Right
Yes, we can’t help but cringe or criticize, or poke fun at our politicians, but as cliché as it sounds, every vote counts. For the more intelligent and privileged voters out there, it is not an excuse not to know about the candidates. We live in an era where information is readily available at the click of a button, and there are all kinds of tools to educate ourselves. There is already that economic advantage to aid in our discernment, so why not use it? Then there are also eligible voters who choose to completely abstain, either because they have given up on Philippine politics, or simply do not bother to care. Nobody can force anyone to vote, but keep in mind that one can’t complain should they dislike the outcome of the elections. Total abstinence equates to zero action or any stand at all.
Process of Elimination
If only voting were as easy as simply listening to a candidate’s platform, looking into their credentials, and accomplishments to come up with a magic list of 12. But reality is, as we have limited options, we thus have to vote wisely, and when I mean wisely, I also mean strategically. If the Philippines can’t produce the “best” candidates per se, then it is still our moral obligation to weigh the odds and choose the “least worse” among the “worst” – to give your vote to the lesser evil.
We can at least begin by NOT voting for certain NON-NEGOTIABLES. Be it our Catholic or Christian values, but we Filipinos are too quick to forgive and forget past faults, or we are highly gullible or shallow when the one at fault is able to somehow compensate through other means. Indeed people deserve second chances on certain occasions, but for those who have committed tremendous crimes, or have consistently shown themselves to be of wicked character, it is a huge gamble to simply turn the other cheek and allow them another chance.
NON-NEGOTIABLES - Who NOT to vote for
Lest we not forget, Honason is responsible for several coup attempts during the Aquino administration in 1986-1992. For Harry Potter fans, If we were to characterize Honasan, he can be compared to Peter Pettigrew “Wormtail”, a treacherous man with little or no real power of his own, but piggybacks on the big boys only when the tide favors them, in order to achieve anything.
Prior to his involvement in the Cory coup attempts, then a disgruntled DND Chief of Security during the Marcos regime, teamed up with Defense Secretary JPE to overthrow Marcos. Of course their plan was discovered and foiled, but to their luck, Marcos power was already waning and the people sought to protect these men who had abandoned ship. Together with FVR, they were foreseen as the catalysts to the 1986 People Power Revolution and went down in history as heroes. Cory had even awarded Honasan the Distinguished Conduct Star and the Presidential Government Medal. However, Honasan tainted his short-lived heroism. Little did Cory know that the same man she awarded, who attempted to overthrow her dictator predecessor, also plotted to overthrow herself as well. Fortunately, he was captured and imprisoned for some time. He is the typical balimbing, opportunist politician.
Years later, we see Honason still a survivor in the political scene committing the same questionable actions, to name a few: 1) During the 2001 Impeachment Trial of former President Erap Estrada, Honasan was 1 out of 11 senators who voted against opening the 2nd envelope which contained damaging evidence against Estrada; 2) This year 2013, Honasan again was among the senators who voted against ratifying the sin-tax bill.
What do we know most about Cynthia Villar aside from she being the wife of Manny Villar? Electing Mrs. Villar is tantamount to electing her better half, and the same reason for which Manny lost the 2010 Presidential elections are the same reasons we do not want his Missus in power. To rehash events of the 2010 Presidential elections, we thought it was to be a neck-and-neck presidential race between Aquino and Villar. It came as quite a surprise when Erap suddenly came from out of nowhere as the apparent 1st runner-up to Aquino. He trailed so closely behind throughout the whole ballot-counting that people thought he’d actually succeed winning his 2nd presidency.
Initially Manny Villar seemed the most formidable nemesis to Aquino, and his campaign seemed indestructible, but as fate would have it, his credibility was shot down only months before election day. Before he and his team could control the fast spreading wild fire of allegations, the damage had already been done. One after the other, allegations surfaced regarding real estate fraud, close ties and illegal deals with then President GMA, but what probably hammered the last nail down on his campaign coffin were accusations on the authenticity of his TV commercial. The unforgettable, catchy jingle: “Nakaligo ka na ba sa dagat ng basura..” was sung by children from slum areas where the lyrics depicted a once poor Villar who could relate to these singing children, and could alleviate them from poverty as he had done through hard work supposedly. The facts unravelled quickly that he did not come from such poor conditions, and even the masa caught on.
Manny Villar got what was coming to him, and with regards to Cynthia, we know she is just her husband’s puppet. Her winning the elections will resurrect Manny’s close-to-defunct political career, and will again give him access to continue his past “projects.”
Another example of a Buy One-Take One (or Take Three) candidate is of course Nancy Binay. It is a well-known fact that Nancy does not have much government experience of her own, but mostly experience adjacent to her father’s, the infamous current Vice President Jejomar Binay.
Jojo Binay is not discreet in his plans to run for President in 2016. Including Nancy’s brother, current Makati mayor Jun-Jun Binay and younger sister Abigail Binay, a current Makati representative- putting another Binay in office, especially in the Senate is adding the cherry on top of a web of precursors to their father’s possible presidency. Another Binay win will indeed set the stage for the Binays to get a tighter grip on the country. If that should happen, we can kiss our hard-earned reputation of clean and honest governance goodbye, and everything else that goes with it.
Joseph Victor, better known as JV, carries the first name of our disgraced and convicted plunderer, former President Joseph Estrada, and certainly proves himself to be a chip of the old block. Like his namesake, JV has nothing substantial to actually contribute to the Senate, or to the country in general, except to be a nuisance and a joke. Again, we have enough Estrada hoodlums lurking around our political circus ring, including his mother, and one of Erap’s many mistresses, current San Juan City Mayor Guia Gomez, half-brother Senator Jinggoy Estrada, son to Erap’s Presidential first lady, also in politics, former Senator Loi Ejercito.
It is very disappointing to note though that the Catholic Church has chosen to endorse JV because he denounces the RH Bill, and instead has turned a blind eye to all his alleged corrupt ways.
In short, the best description for Chiz is a man of many inner demons. These days, talking about Chiz without mentioning the spat between him and his girlfriend’s parents, actress Heart Evangelista is unlikely. Though we’d like to make a distinct separation between showbiz and politics, reality is that these two industries always intertwine heavily in the Philippines. To not base all logic on the much-publicized feud, there seems to be at least some gnawing truth in their deep dislike of him. To say whether he is using Heart financially or to further his career, is another question and open to many opinions. However what we can pick out from their sea of anecdotes of Chiz as an arrogant drunkard, paints us a picture of a carefully disguised deceitful personality.
In his earlier years as senator, Chiz gained popularity among the younger voters. He was eloquent and intelligent, and able to answer any question thrown at him whether in English or Tagalog. He was seen as an idealistic leader and rising star who could possibly champion honesty and competence for a change.Years later however, nothing can be highlighted in his quite lackluster stint in the Senate, and for a while, Chiz faded away from the public’s radar. Perhaps Chiz too felt his career become dismal, and eventually transformed into a more calculating politician.
Today Chiz finds himself in the spotlight again, as though it seemed to have dawned on him that naive idealism has no place in Philippine politics. For me personally, he strikes me as an all-talk two-faced politician and can be likened to Marcos in the sense that he is charismatic, shrewd and overly ambitious- a deadly combination, and a tougher corrupt fish to fry.
To put emphasis on political-related issues, Chiz’s actions in the following arouses suspicion on his true character and agenda, among the most recent: 1) He voted against ratifying the sin-tax bill together with more questionable figures: Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, Senators Bong-Bong Marcos, Ralph Recto, Jinggoy Estrada, Gringo Honasan, Joker Arroyo, Ramon Revilla Jr. and Tito Sotto, and 2) Most importantly, his alleged political backer is said to be businessman and former Marcos Trade secretary Bobby Ongpin, who was recently involved in the shady DBP loans deal. The Office of the Ombudsman, AMLC and BSP have been investigating, and Ongpin, and certain responsible DBP officials have been in deep water.
As stated earlier, the next process would then be to choose the top choices among the weeded out selection. There may not be very many outstanding things to highlight, or we may have to overlook some lesser shortcomings, but we can only hope for the best that we’ve chosen the “best” out of what is there.
Makamasa – Forever the theme
Elections are just around the corner, and we see the same campaign style done repeatedly. There are commercials with catchy tunes with candidates dancing and performing whatever shenanigans, or candidates shown to be toiling to help out our less fortunate Filipino brothers and sisters. Slogans are slapped across every sticker and poster promoting the candidate’s pro-poor platform. Yet, there is no real or concrete platform, but only insincere and outlandish motherhood promises of a better future. It’s a circus show, and the same story, and the same theme all over again. Sadly, it is the tried and tested formula for success. You win the hearts if the masa – and you win the Philippine elections.
Of course there too exist honest and competent leaders out there, but that’s exactly why they do not win. Their high moral integrity hinders them from making shameless campaigns, and thus leaving no lasting impact onto the masa. They have good ideas and plans for the country, but the masa are not able to understand. As I’ve stated in an earlier post- appeals to emotion, rather than appeals to logic do the trick in accumulating votes. It’s a difficult trade-off. Is there actually a way to marry competency and mass appeal? We always talk about educating our voters, but maybe at this point, it is a lost cause to weed out our unintelligent voters. Perhaps we can turn the other direction instead and make amendments to at least filter the kind of candidates that are allowed to run for office.
Our Candidates, Our Voters
In our Philippine Constitution, to be considered a Senatorial candidate, only the very bare minimum qualifications are needed: 1) A natural born citizen of the Philippines 2) At least 35 years of age on the day of the election 3) Able to read and write, 4) A registered voter and 5) A resident of the Philippines for not less than two years immediately preceding the day of the election.
Definitely most will agree that the bar must be raised a little, with emphasis on the Able to read and write criteria. I would most certainly support that clause to be amended to having a college degree as their lowest educational attainment, or a high school degree, at the very, very least. While we clamor for bigger changes in our country’s systems, we most certainly need leaders who have the knowledge and aptitude to be able to actually carry out these tasks at hand. Contrary to some beliefs that having just a simple and honest man with no educational background would be suffice to hold office, let me tell you this: He will either not understand the ins and outs of our country’s complicated systems, laws and policies, or he will be taken advantage of and eaten up alive by his own advisors or political foes. Running for senator is not to be taken lightly.
If we want better quality candidates, then we must set higher standards in choosing them. We must keep reminding ourselves that senators, our legislators, create our laws- laws that affect the quality of our lives.
The Great Divide
As said earlier, we do have very competent and qualified leaders out there, but why must they be forced to downplay their credentials? And why do politicians with no credentials surface as the better choice?
Whether we’d like to admit it or not, crab mentality pervades throughout our Philippine society, despite our strong Catholic or Christian values and supposedly supportive and hospitable culture. It seems like Filipinos find satisfaction over the defeats of another, or ready to dub or belittle another’s success as chamba, or churn out some logical excuse other than one’s competence to explain his achievement. The root of this mentality probably originates from the enormous and continuously growing economic divide between the privileged and underprivileged, where majority belong to the underprivileged, or masa. As a result, many Filipinos root for the underdog to trump the rich and powerful. They are tired of seeing the wealthy grow wealthier, while their own conditions don’t improve, and in fact worsen.
It is a popular theme in our telenovelas for example, wherein the hero or heroine is one who comes from downtrodden circumstances, but is able to somehow conquer the odds and level themselves against the rich and cruel kontrabida. This kind of mindset may affect the way in which our voters choose their candidates. They want relatable people such as themselves to win, and mistrust the wealthy and educated.
A recent and concrete example of our society’s crab mentality is the incident of Robert Blair Carabuena slapping MMDA official Saturnino Fabros. The act was caught on video and went viral instantly, with majority of our netizens quick to condemn Carabuena. This is not to say that his actions were unacceptable. No matter what, plain and simple, it is downright wrong to assault anyone, and in most countries, hitting an officer is indeed punishable by law. However, to also give justice where it is due, important parts of what occurred prior to the slapping of MMDA Fabros, were not included in the video to give viewers a thorough understanding of Carabuena’s violent reaction. Furthermore, as more information about him was gathered up, like he coming from a well-off family, being an Ateneo graduate and a Philip Morris executive, it became a witch hunt of overwhelming proportions. Carabuena’s actions were extremely magnified, and he was portrayed as an evil punk bully who acted entitled to do what he pleased. What most netizens didn’t fathom was that they too themselves became bullies, hiding behind the protective walls of cyberspace.
A stark comparison between Carabuena and Fabros in every aspect, the incident suddenly transpired into a story of Rich versus Poor, overlooking the fact that Carabuena is actually a good person and law-abiding citizen. Of course, politicians were quick to take advantage of the condemnation against Carabuena, and took immediate action to reward Fabros very publicly, with their names clearly stamped on it.
This is not to say Fabros did not deserve such praise, for truth is, it was admirable too that he did not retaliate physically against Carabuena. This is also not to trivialize the feelings of the underprivileged as baseless. Of course they have their share of anger and bitterness. Our country’s systems don’t do much for people with no access to power. On the other hand, having some sort of wealth and influence in the Philippines is also a doubled-edged sword. We have seen throughout history how privileged persons are actually given worse treatment sometimes because government officials want to appease the masa by showing that justice is blind to economic status.
The Magna Carta for the Poor
However, although being makamasa is repeatedly the underlying theme of every politician’s campaign, there are slight divergences slowly cropping up. I must say that I applaud our President Aquino for vetoing the Magna Carta for the Poor bill last March 25, 2013, legislated by our seemingly concerned senators and congressmen, despite the unpopular wave he may create by doing so. If you look closely into the provisions of the bill, it speaks about giving all kinds of government services to the poor, but there is no concrete proposal on where funds are to be taken from. The bill contains merely vague and self-righteous ideas. Of course we all want every hardworking Filipino citizen to have access to basic human rights, but furthermore realistically, how about budget and implementation? I also stress the word hard-working because the bill makes sweeping statements to target the poor in a general sense. Who exactly among “the poor” is it referring to? We would want such a bill to support those citizens who are not well-off but are working to get themselves and their family by. Its aim should not be to give everyone a free ride, but rather, to help those who also help themselves. We want our laws to uplift lives, but our countrymen must also do their part. The bill even goes as far as to include suing the National Housing Authority (NHA) if the government is not able to provide housing units.
This bill is incredibly ridiculous, and obviously and timingly put out there for the sole pupose of garnering votes. It’s title alone “Magna Carta for the Poor” makes this bill even more disgusting because it was created in the guise of helping the less fortunate, and those who do not support it are branded as elitist and heartless.
There is nothing wrong about being makamasa. In fact it is truly admirable if one has that genuine concern for the poor and actually does pro-active solutions to help out. It is just horrible to watch bunch of wicked politicians feigning all this concern and wasting money away, when the actual victims are forgotten.
Don’t just vote, but vote WISELY this May 2013.
A short editorial this Holy Week
There are different attributes we admire in the people we look up to or aspire to be, depending on our background, set of values, or what we personally hold of high importance. To some, their idea of a role model or great leader is one with an iron fist, able to achieve goals quickly and competently in a no-nonsensical manner. People around him, even his colleagues fear him in some way. Conversely, others look up to someone who has a kind and selfless heart; one who is able to garner followers and loyal supporters through his passion and genuine strive to achieve set goals. Then, there are leaders who possess just this raw talent and are highly intelligent. There are also leaders who overflow with charisma, that their exuberance and enthusiasm is naturally infectious and motivating.
There are different kinds of inspiring people out there, and of course, there is no one correct archetype, or someone who possesses a perfect combination of all the effective qualities. However, I strongly believe that a common factor across all inspiring figures is that they have overcome extreme adversities to arrive at where they are today. We love to hear about rags-to-riches stories. There are those who have come from a poor economic stature, and even terribly painful circumstances, but were able to become financially adequate through hard work and resourcefulness, and eventually make a good name for themselves. There are others more fortunate enough to have already been born into a good name and have access to great privileges. However, they too face tremendous difficulties, though just not as apparent to an outside-eye if compared to one from humble beginnings. Yet those obstacles exist, and come in the shape of a more disguised form.
It is cliché to say, but everyone really does experience failure, and it truly is the test of a person’s character to be able to acknowledge mistakes, and learn from it. It is about attitude. It is about courage and perseverance. Although it is painful and disheartening when such mistakes born are not results of purely human error, but due to cracks in our socio-political systems. These are barriers sometimes flippantly dismissed as trivial, but are actually very challenging to overcome. Nevertheless, the greatest people today have gone through the ugly, but keep fighting the good fight. They have a story, a journey full of wisdom to speak about, and it has made all the difference.
Our perception of the world boils down to our personal definition of success and priorities in life. In the concrete jungle of the corporate world, performance is measured by the person’s budget numbers. A country’s fundamentals are based on GDP, inflation and price stability. We have standardized test in every industry, when it is actually an inaccurate measure of one’s competence, but simply an entrance rite. Luckily in reality, the world isn’t painted black and white, and meaningful experiences color our lives. Life isn’t actually as plain systematic as we’ve thought. If the end all, be all of someone’s value was simply derived quantitatively, then we’d all be miserable.
We can’t grasp why, but there are people who strike us profoundly for reasons we can’t explain rationally. Somehow, they emanate confidence despite shortcomings. They exude love, spirituality and brotherhood despite a crab-mentality society. They command leadership with their presence alone. They are silently intelligent and talented without being forceful. We just know somehow that they are destined for greatness.
Never stop believing in them.
It was to my great privilege that I was able to visit the National Art Gallery of the Philippines, as a good friend, VV brought a number of us there for her birthday. The breath-taking, yet eerily haunting Spoliarium greets visitors at the entrance. The gallery also contains a vast number of other artworks which includes paintings by Fernando Amorsolo, Juan Luna, Joya, and pieces, sculptures dated as early as the 1800s, as well as during the American and Japanese occupation.
The largest painting in the Philppines (4.22 meter x 7.675 meters). Juan Luna won the First Golden Medal for the Spoliarium in the Exposicion de Bellas Artes (Madrid Art Exposition, May 1884).
The Genius that was Juan Luna
When we imagine gladiators during the time of the Great Roman Empire, we envision them to be strong and powerful warriors in the Colliseum, providing wild entertainment to the emperor, his court, politicians and commoners alike. Gladiators are able to take down their foes with a cunning and skillful ability that seems almost superhuman. However, Juan Luna, artist and political activist, portrayed these gladiators in a different light in his internationally acclaimed painting, the magnificent Spoliarium (1884), which means “the hall in which defeated gladiators were stripped of their armour.”
Juan Luna instead depicted the doomed plight of slain gladiators who were left to the hands of slaves. After being publicly mutilated into shreds, gladiators were not even given a dignified burial. The slaves simply threw their badly battered corpses into the furnace to burn and kept any piece jewelry or gold left hanging from their armors. Wealthy politicians only cared about winning their bets, and could not care less about the fate of these gladiators.
Juan Luna likened the horrendous ordeal of these gladiators to that of the Filipino natives under the 300-years of Spanish rule. Though heroic and strong, the Filipinos of that era faced an overwhelming magnitude of abuse and were merely used for whatever purpose of their conquerors. Many Filipinos died in vain; their deaths and efforts never vindicated. Nevertheless, Juan Luna also wished to embody a double message. As the slaves, in the end had power over the fallen gladiators, Juan Luna, in reverse, also compared the downfall of these mighty gladiators to Spanish colonizers, and alternately, the slaves to that of the Filipinos. He sent out the message that slaves could also indeed triumph over their captors.
The Spoliarium in Popular Culture: A Mere Urban Legend?
The Spoliarium has inspired further works amongst Filipino artists, such as Ryan Cayabyab’s opera called the Spoliarium which tells the story of its creation.
However the most controversial work has come from the early 1990’s popular song by the Eraserheads, also entitled Spoliarium. The crypted message of the song is said to be about the 1980’s underage bold star, Delia Smith, better known as her stage name, Pepsi Paloma allegedly raped by big showbiz personalities to this day: Vic Sotto, Joey de Leon and Richie Reyes.
Pepsi had tried to file rape charges against them then, even hiring Senator Cayetano to represent her. Unfortunately the charges were mysteriously dropped, as Tito Sotto supposedly coerced her to sign some sort of settlement. After her accusations, Pepsi could not get projects anymore, as people in the industry feared hiring her due to the political clout of the accused. Tragically, a few years after, Pepsi hanged herself in her room in1985, at the age of 17, never receiving justice.
Should this song have truly been intended to shed light on Pepsi, its message could not have been any more apt. Just as Juan Luna aimed to depict the mistreatment and exploitation of the gladiators, or rather, the Filipinos during the Spanish rule with his painting, the Eraserheads portrayed the same oppression of Pepsi at the hands of powerful people. At only the age of 14 years old, Pepsi bared it all for the silverscreen, and starred in many hardcore porn movies. Daughter to a Filipina mom and American dad, Pepsi was plucked out of her poor economic conditions and exploited to take on such roles, not knowing any better. Even in death was there no redemption.
Its Message Lives on
It was never proven in court that Vic Sotto, Joey de Leon and Richie Reyes raped Pepsi, but one can conclude that Pepsi would never have come forward and risk it all, which she inevitably did, if it was not the truth.
Years later, we still see great injustices and brazen abuses of power continually pervading our nation. We see innocent lives lost and good reputations destroyed because those with access to power wish to conceal their dishonesty. We see our country’s top leaders spearheading useless laws that will only benefit them, and then further justifying their decisions illegally. The list can go on and on, and it is natural for one to simply throw their hands up in defeat and choose to be indifferent instead. Yet that is the last thing we must do.
The majestic Spoliairum stands in the National Art Gallery of the Philippines not simply to be gawked at by curious Manila-dwellers or visiting tourists. It stands as a staunch reminder of the hardships that our ancestors faced in their fights for freedom and justice a century ago. It is a beacon of eternal hope to keep fighting the good fight, not just for ourselves, but for those who do not have a voice and have suffered and fallen into the cracks of our system.
Spoliarium by Eraserheads
Dumidilim ang paligid
May tumawag sa pangalan ko
Labing isang palapag
Tinanong kung okey lang ako
Sabay abot ng baso
At bakit ba’pag nagsawa na ako
Bigla na lang ayoko na
At ngayon Di pa rin alam
Kung bat’ tayo nandito
Puwede bang itigil muna
Ang pag-ikot ng mundo
Lumiwanag ang buwan
San Juan Di ko na nasasakyan
Ang lahat ng bagay ay
Gumuguhit na lang Sa ‘king lalamunan
Ewan mo at ewan natin
Sinong may pakana?
At bakit ba Tumilapon ang
Gintong alak diyan sa paligid mo?
At ngayon Di pa rin alam
Kung ba’t tayo nandito
Puwede bang itigil muna
Ang pag-ikot ng mundo
Umiyak ang umaga
Anong sinulat ni Enteng at Joey diyan
Sa gintong salamin Di ko na mabasa
Pagkat merong nagbura
Ewan mo at ewan natin
At bakit ba tumilapon ang spolarium
Diyan sa paligid mo?
At ngayon Di pa rin alam
Kung ba’t tayo nandito
Puwede bang itigil muna
Ang pag-ikot ng mundo
It is said that the ultimate mark of a true hero or leader lies in the impact of the legacy left behind, and truly this has been what the late DILG Sec. Jesse Robredo has shown – a sterling lifetime example of competent and honest governance. In our country where decent government officials are scarce in a sea of corruption, it is a sad to see his passing, much more so in the tragic manner in which his life was taken away so suddenly.
From the moment Sec. Robredo assumed office in the government at only 29 years old, beginning as mayor of Naga City, he portrayed the dedication and sincerity which stemmed from his desire to really uplift the deteriorating living standards in Naga City. It was not about receiving privileges from his position, or feeling the power and prestige at his every move. It was about Service. It was about responsibility and accountability for those being governed. After six terms as Naga City Mayor, he proved himself as one of the Philippines finest – equipped with brains, practical skills and of course, hard work, humility and honesty. He turned Naga City around into the bustling and progressive city it is today.
Later on, he showed the same dedication as the current DILG Secretary, even amidst tougher trials, and now on a national scale. It is rather unfortunate that he never got the confirmation from the Commission of Appointments, and it makes one wonder why a person of high valor would be refused such. It only emphasizes further the internal ploys working about in the government, and the people and their own hidden agendas behind these ploys.
Nevetheless, a CA confirmation did not stop Sec. Robredo from doing his job, and it is good to see that his actions and achievements have not been overlooked and will not be forgotten.
It also seems markedly coincidental that the discovery of his body amidst the plane wreckage in Masbate fell on August 21 as well, the death anniversary of another great leader, Sen. Ninoy Aquino. It’s almost as if history is wishing to reiterate a lesson of great importance to the Filipino people. History is telling us that Ninoy’s message decades ago, still stands today, but now with even greater emphasis and urgency – to fight dishonesty and abuse of power. Like Ninoy, perhaps Sec. Robredo’s untimely death is yet another wake-up call for us Filipino citizens to rise from our indifference and take courage to emulate his example, even in our own ways.
Let their tragic deaths not be in vain – we must commemorate in sadness of two good leaders lost, but at the same time , commemorate the exemplary lives they have led, and the reforms they set out to make.
The end to the "Coronavela"
It seemed as though the whole country was tuned in on the final hearing of the Corona trial last Tuesday, May 29, 2012. Beyond just politics, the Impeachment Trial contained elements of a telenovela: the high and mighty chief justice’s fall from grace and his desperate tactics, the emotional family feud between Cristina Corona and the Basas, the sensationalizing of the media, the at-par match-up between the prosecution and the defense team, the explosive evidence on the bank accounts exposed by the tough female Ombudsman, the movie-like speeches of both sides, and of course, the highly colorful characters among the 23 senator judges. Truly, it was a spectacle to behold, and many viewers became engrossed with the political drama that was unfolding with the progression of the trial.
The trial boiled down to Tuesday’s finale where all 23 senator-judges had to one-by one give their verdict and explain why they decided so. Judgment was finally handed down with the victorious pounding of JPE’s gavel, and it was a landslide decision to convict the Chief Justice, 20 to 3. The rallying point of the 20 senators was that they all were convinced by the overwhelming evidence which clearly pointed out Corona’s failure to include millions worth in deposits and properties in his SALN. His intentional disclosure of such was due to the fact he had amassed such wealth through illegal dealings.
It was quite a triumphant moment in Philippine history that at last, our nation’s elected leaders were doing what was right and just. It gave a glimmer of hope that crime does not always pay.
However, these senators-judges are still politicians in their own right; their intentions to convict should still be scrutinized, and the wordings of their speeches carefully reviewed. We must ask ourselves, did these senators pronounce Corona guilty because they seek justice, or is it solely because they realized it was the popular vote, and casting that crucial vote will in turn get them re-elected in the upcoming elections? Media had also played a very central role in swaying public opinion against Corona, and for greatly influencing the behavior and mindsets of those involved in the trial. Had the trial not been televised, would the senators proclaim such heroic statements? It was also in the final hearings, firstly, when Corona had taken the stand, walked out, and secondly, followed by a very convincing testimony by Congressman Rudy Farinas that showed that the Defense was losing their case. Everywhere Filipinos began to believe in Corona’s guilt. It would be considered almost political suicide to vote against the tide, and the senators of course took this into consideration. However, with this in mind, why did there remain still 3 senators who voted to acquit?
And then there were Three
Only senators: Joker Arroyo, Miriam Santiago and Bongbong Marcos voted to acquit the former chief justice. It may seem incredulous, and almost foolish, that given all factors, they still stood by their ground to acquit. Nevertheless, their decision should not be downplayed as reckless, but perhaps, maybe even more well-calculated than the other 20. No politician will stick out their neck like that unless they know there is something in it for them. Let us not forget that the INC has been rooting for Corona, and as they vote as a block, it may well be presumed that these 3 senators will get their multitudes of votes. For now however, only time will tell if indeed, theirs had been the better choice.
Sen. Miriam Santiago blowing off some steam. She stated that she asked “God to strike her dead”
Immediately after Sen Lito Lapid delivered his no-frills of a speech, his name and “picha pie” became the top trending topics in the Philippines. Filipinos commented that they appreciated his candidness and honesty, as he spoke of himself being only a highschool graduate and not knowing anything about the law or law jargon. Instead he relied on his conscience to convict Corona.
Many applauded his speech and remarked that they would much rather have a leader who was uneducated but honest, than someone possessing vice-versa qualities. Again, this is a reflection of the mindset of majority of voters in the Philippines. There are those who’ve witnessed the atrocities committed by intelligent leaders, and instead desire simply, honesty, and then there are those who are not able to grasp the kind of the tasks and responsibilities expected of a leader which does require a level of educational attainment and experience. His speech was a breath of fresh air, but at the same time, we must remember that he is a senator, the highest ranking official in our legislative unit. You actually must know the law in order to make laws. Sen. Lapid’s effect has shown that regardless of status in society, many citizens are happy to settle with only the bare minimum criteria in choosing a leader.
Sen. Lapid however showed us one very significant matter when deciding on crucial issues- decisions should not be made based on knowledge of the law alone, but it must be accompanied by the abiding principles of morality. He agreed with Farinas’s main point that Corona and his defense team produced testimonies that relied on very technical aspects and explanations of the law. They cited articles and cases here and there, but when looked at an overview, one could clearly see that it was all well, palusot.
Sen. Lito Lapid on picha pie - referring to the presentation (pie-chart) given by Ombudsman Conchita Morales
In contrast to Sen. Lapid, Sen. Frank Drilon displayed his in-depth knowledge of the law throughout the impeachment proceedings with his piercing questions and fiery deliveries.
The Aftermath: What happens next?
To many, Corona’s conviction was a telling sign that justice is not dead in the Philippines, and that it is still possible to mitigate corruption. Many are enthusiastic that President Noynoy’s anti-corruption campaign may be achievable after all. However, there are also still those who are skeptical that the result of the trial will not create any great reformations in the government. To them, Corona may have been ousted, but that still does not account for many other corrupt officials lurking in office and wasting away taxpayers’ money. More than just the elimination such government officials, there is a call for the government to reassess and fix their institutions and practices.
Of course, nothing can be done overnight, and there are still many unresolved issues circling about. In the recent aftermath of the trial, there are many discussions on who will be the next Chief Justice to replace Corona. The question still also remains if criminal charges will still be filed against him to put him behind bars. Also, many of the senator judges who pronounced him guilty are requesting to leave him be, as he already suffered at the hands of the impeachment trial. There is also talk that Corona plans on taking a teaching post at a law school, as though all his faults have been absolved instantly.
Well, what can be said is that at least the first step has been taken, but we will still need many more steps to accomplish something bigger and with lasting effects.
A WITNESS, A JUDGE
Not only was Corona’s infamous cowardly walkout, a desperate attempt to delay impeachment proceedings, but it was a horrible display of his arrogance. He showed that he thought himself above the law. He assumed he could easily come and leave the premise as he pleased, without any official permission, as though he was the presiding judge and not the one taking the stand. Moreover, what was supposed to be simply his opening remarks turned out to be a 3-hour long soliloquy filled with contradictions, lies, crocodile tears and baseless accusations that only deepened his guilt to the public. Senate presiding officer Juan Ponce Enrile had already politely remarked many times if he could cut to the chase. Corona finally ended his speech by saying matter-of-factly, “The Chief Justice of the Republic of the Philippines is to be excused.” And with that, he simply got up and walked towards the exit doors. He delivered those finals words so flippantly, as though he believed he was entitled to have the choice to leave. He seemed convinced that his convoluting introduction was suffice to prove his innocence, and that the Filipino people should simply take in what he had to say.
Speech Filled with Loopholes
Furthermore, Corona also knew that should he wait until the cross-examination, he would not be able to adequately answer questions regarding why several properties and US dollar deposits were not declared in his SALN, nor his 82 bank accounts which Ombudsman Conchita Morales exposed from official AMLC records. Let us not also forget that most importantly, it was the Defense who subpoenaed Ombudsman Morales to testify as their witness, thinking her testimonies would strengthen their case.
During his speech, he used the same powerpoint with a pie-chart of his accounts which Morales used to explain his undisclosed amassed wealth. Corona attempted to prove Morales a liar by identifying several bank accounts and gave details of the branch name and account number, professing that these accounts have already been closed since December 31, 2011. However, Corona only strengthened Morales’s testimony, as he indeed acknowledged the existence of these bank accounts. Morales did not say that they remain open to this day, but that there were deposits of millions of pesos and dollars to these different accounts, and major withdrawals on significant dates, then systematically closed during the years of 2002-2011. Clearly, Corona has been using his authority as the Chief Justice for heinously dishonest dealings.
Never did Corona mention the rapid influx and exit of cash, nor did he explain the origin of these funds. Rather, in this portion of his speech, did he decide to focus instead on challenging Morales’s credibility in many menacing statements. He also explained that the reason why he did not include his US dollar deposits in his SALN was due to a confidentiality in the law which allows non-disclosure of such, which again is another lie, or rather his customized interpretation of the law.
The Defense Team: Interestingly Jimeno was one of the lawyers who signed the petition against Corona for being a midnight appointee.
AN APPEAL TO EMOTION
Corona jumped from one topic onto the next, not shedding any light to his primary allegations. His “defense” strategy was to appeal to emotion, and to convince the Filipino people that he and his family lived simple lives and earned their fortune though honest hard work, and it was they who have been wrongly accused and unfairly judged.
His lengthy speech can be described as a hodgepodge of sorts: accusations hurled at different entities (President Aquino, Presidential Adviser Ronaldo Llamas, Ombudsman Morales, the Basa family, specifically the late Jose Basa III), threats guised in form of heroic righteousness, emotional upheavals as he would recall the turmoils in his life to gain sympathy from the public, and mainly, continuous vehement denials of his guilt. He also provided general statements about his bank accounts and investments that did not explain, nor debunk the fact that he had ridiculous amounts entering and leaving his many accounts. Perhaps Corona had indeed become fed-up with the many negative things thrown at him and simply wanted to explain his side; but he did not do a good job in swaying favor to himself. Rather, he looked like a rookie witness throwing a tantrum on the stand.
Talking about his terminally ill-mother, from whom he claims he inherited a good amount
The Basa family who flew all the way from the US to watch the trial. Corona did not spare the late Jose Basa III from any insults, and attempted to describe the Basa family as the actual oppressors relating to BGEI.
The Waiver: TO BAIT FISH WITHAL, if it will feed nothing else, it will feed my revenge
With what finally seemed like the turning point in his round-about speech, Corona then presented a waiver he agreed to sign which would allow all information of his, as well as his wife’s bank accounts of both peso and foreign currency deposits to be disclosed for public scrutiny. Suddenly, Corona prompted a sliver of a chance that he may be innocent after all, that he was bold enough to show everyone he was not hiding anything,
However, the waiver held that finite condition that all senator judges would have to sign it along with him. He challenged the lawmakers to join him in this act of transparency, to show the Filipino people that they are “deserving of our trust.” , As if he had not already made a mockery of himself, Corona had sunk even lower as he clearly confirmed that he had no intention of disclosing any information on his accounts. This is not to say that everyone among the senator judges have spotless accounts, but the fact of the matter is, Corona is the one on trial, not they. He gave another indication of his guilt, and his crab mentality character— that he knew he may not survive the trial, and so he might as well tarnish the reputations of as many as he can on the way down. In his accusations to Pres. Aquino, Corona personified his own statements, ” a vengeful person is unfit to be a leader.”
TO SHOOT YOURSELF IN THE FOOT, AND THEN THE HEART
As Corona’s speech lengthened, so did he further incriminate himself. It did not stop there when he had the genius idea to immediately leave the Senate hall, leaving his Defense team looking genuinely startled amidst Enrile’s angry barks to shut all exits. Soon after the chaos, Corona, in all his humiliation, emerged in a wheelchair, and soon enough lie after lie was told regarding his medical condition. As all else failed, Corona let himself play the role of the sick person, the same pathetic card GMA had pulled out before.
Strapped on a wheelchair due to hypoglycemia - not the kind of “wheels of justice” we want
At this point, Corona’s guilt has become even more apparent but the question still remains if this will be enough to impeach the dishonorable chief justice. We still don’t know how things will turn out, we can say at least that honesty, prudence and good governance is not a lost cause yet in the Philippines. Beneath the ocean of graft and corruption found in the government, and in almost every nook and cranny in our nation – there is still that strong will for morality to reign, and justice to be served. Yes, the wheels of justice are still slowly turning, but definitely they are turning.