COMMENT: Dirty stuff, no issues

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews) – In more than 80 years, we have not seen politicians imposing themselves as the cream of Philippine politics going down so low. They are not mere barangay, municipal or provincial leaders but the President, Vice President, Senators and House Representatives. They are not talking about policies and issues crucial to the life of the Filipinos but of one another’s dirty closet.

We are not saying that Philippine political contests in decades past were won or lost on issues. Popular appeal had been crucial. How good or bad a candidate appeared had been one yardstick to victory or defeat. One party would paint lily white its candidates; the opposing party would smear them coal black. That was mud-slinging during election time under the two-party system. All is fair in love and politics.

What’s happening in the Senate now is shameful. Vice President Jejomar Binay has to be brought down. He has become too popular beyond the comfort of the 2016 presidential aspirants – allies of the President in the Liberal Party and some other ambitious senators. Who are those trying to bring Binay down?

We are not defending Binay. If he is really that corrupt, why try him in the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee. No scoundrel has ever been convicted and punished in the Blue Ribbon hearings – supposedly in aid of legislation but in reality in aid of re-election or election. The Ombudsman and the Sandigabayan are the proper forums for the corrupt.

What are we telling the world? Philippine top leaders are incorrigibly corrupt. Our next president will be a grand thief.

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But don’t we have a President boasting of his “daang matuwid (straight path)” policy in governance? If that policy is for real, corruption should have been a thing of the past, not a flourishing media fare. Need we have an inventory?

It appears “daang matuwid” is fake. Was then Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile correct in his remarks: “Matuwid nga nguni’t madumi.”

Remember? Just a year into his administration, his aide was caught with an “armory” inside his car. The President, instead of dismissing him, declared his confidence in him and left it to him to resign or not. In his 2013 State of the Nation Address, he denounced the corruption in the Bureau of Customs. When the Customs Commissioner tendered his resignation, he rejected it – expressing his confidence in him. Unto this day, the President has been defending his cabinet officials who are inefficient or suspected of corruption.

Why defend them? Dismiss them! He should have asked Binay to resign from the cabinet instead of leaving it to him to. Why tolerate the portrayal of garbage in daang matuwid?

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Instead of publicly appreciating the Supreme Court for declaring unconstitutional the PDAF (Priority Development Assistance Fund) and the DAP (Disbursement Acceleration Program) which abet corruption and political patronage – in reality, in aide of daang matuwid – he denounced the Court as too powerful. He wants the Constitution amended to clip the SC powers so it will not interfere in the political decisions of the Congress and the Palace.

After having made several appointments to the SC – one of them as the Chief Justice – he must have been disappointed to see the SC check his power and that of the Congress. He must have regretted appointing a woman chief justice who has the “balls, gall and guts” to say “NO” to him, declaring in the FOCAP (Foreign Correspondents Association of the Philippines) conference that “she does not serve any President or endure anyone”.

The martial law Supreme Court did not check President Ferdinand E. Marcos’ political powers. Is daang matuwid the road to dictatorship?

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Does the Congress have no serious business or issues to address other than investigating corruption, etc.?

Will the Freedom of Information bill be passed before the 16th Congress ends? It has been sleeping there for several Congresses now.

Energy has been a recurring problem. The Congress gave then President Fidel V. Ramos emergency powers to solve it. The problem has relapsed. There was another proposal to give President Aquino III emergency powers. We think the Congress should be the one to address it.

Patronage is the root of corruption. This is embedded in our political system. The 1987 Constitution has provisions addressing this. One is the eradication of political dynasty. Corollary to this is the limitation of elective terms. The enabling law for the second is a mockery of the intent of the Constitution. The first has never been seriously addressed for the last eight Congresses. Political power thrives on patronage. Why kill it?

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We might have counted it wrong. The “Binay beating” has hogged the headlines and side-lines going into the second month. When will that end? We think Binay is enjoying it; the Cayetano-Trillanes-Guingona triumvirate in the Senate is enjoying. That will keep their names in the limelight until the election time.

More exposés, so-called, will come out. The “Drillon over-pricing scandal” of the Iloilo Convention Center has just surfaced. That may outlast the “Binay beating”. The dirtier the stuffs, the more interesting! What could be more interesting than seeing the Vice President’s and the Senate President’s dirty closets?

Rest assured, the Philippine media will stoke the scandals instead of dousing it.

“Hiya”, or “shame”, is a defining trait to the Filipino – a trait to be avoided. To be rebuked “Walang hiya ka!” (You have no shame) is most shameful.

Dirty stuffs rom the PDAF, to the DAP, to Binay, to Drilon – are those not too much for the Filipino “hiya” or for the President’s daang matuwid?

(“Comment” is Mr. Patricio P. Diaz’ column for MindaViews, the opinion section of MindaNews. The Titus Brandsma Media Awards honored Mr. Diaz with a “Lifetime Achievement Award” for his “commitment to education and public information to Mindanawons as Journalist, Educator and Peace Advocate.” You can reach him at patpdiazgsc@yahoo.com.)

Posted in Opinion