AFP Corruption Scandal

The Filipino culture of schadenfreude

It has been a hell of a week. In the beginning we had Willing Willie, and allegations of child abuse case that spawned from it, has sparked a poor versus rich debate. So much for that apology. Willing Willie and Jan-Jan issue was followed rather swiftly by the execution of three Filipinos sentenced to die for being drug couriers, and I wrote that “Poverty does not excuse us from committing crimes.”

Throughout the week a theme seem to have developed. No, it isn’t that abject poverty has driven both cases, but rather our society’s values seem to have skewed. It skewed a lot. We’re not talking about sexual mores and how the conservatives would rage and rant on the proliferation of scantily clad women on magazines, no, this is far, far more horrifying. We’re talking about the cancer that has spread into every facet of society. That everything can be twisted and turned.

Children are now taught how to dance like an adult, and a segment of the public finds it humorous. We have Filipinos going abroad posing as drug couriers. Some of them victims, some of them willing to do it for a quick buck. We have Filipinos treating other Filipinos that way. And at the root core of it all is the abject poverty that many feel. We have sacrificed our values for a quick buck. What’s most frightening is that they don’t think it is wrong.

It has become norm to hash out problems with the Police to get out of a situation. It isn’t even bribery. Just asking for a favor, if you could please look the other way. Or ask the government to bail them out of a jam while abroad. Most certainly there are many who are indeed innocent, but where do we stand up for law and justice?

Then there is the frightening state of debate on Reproductive Health, where the Bishops proud of their role at EDSA and many other important junctures in recent history, simply disengaging themselves from the debate. The RH Bill story no longer becomes one on the merits, and details of the bill, but the vile thrown by both sides of the isle.

As a society we cringe at the thought of millions being stolen by military officials and their wives. It has become a daily afternoon telenovela for news junkies. We dream of a day when the Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez finally leaves or is forced to leave her office, and we agree, to “Nuke ’em.”

Yet the cancer prevailing in our society runs so deep, it boggles the mind. It isn’t just that millions get stolen from government coffers anymore. It is how We the People behave, and believe. Our social mores have twisted and turned into something far, far less civilized. Is this the price of decades of corruption? That we now have a culture of being un-Filipino?

The quintessential Filipino is basically good, isn’t he? He is funny, and happy, but his jokes while sometimes lewd, and hinting of innuendo, still respects kids. The true Filipino male does everything for his family, but while poor fears the law. That our idea of Maria Clara is a good woman: the devoted wife, and mother; the good sister. Are these merely nostalgic images from a bygone age?

Some of us don’t think so. In fact, as John Nery pointed out when Carmen Pedrosa was bitten by a mosquito, John Nery wrote a most eloquent op-ed, “Opinion and the gullible columnist.” In his concluding paragraph, he wrote about how some Filipinos think so lowly about our fellow Filipinos. Nery wrote on Pedrosa, “In all likelihood she began with her conclusion. Her low regard for her fellow Filipinos, especially those who did not see the wisdom of constitutional change during the Arroyo presidency or who were undiscerning enough to vote for Noynoy Aquino, is no secret. That must have been why, when she clicked on the link and saw the story, she failed to follow her own advice and “question information.” The story confirmed her worldview, and was therefore true.”

In many ways, his words too capture the culture of schadenfreude that Willie Revelame, and others like him pontificate.

We also think very lowly of country. How many times have people said, we cannot do this or that because, the country is not sophisticated enough. If elsewhere like Japan they cannot do it, what more in the Philippines? Why are we so afraid to dare? Why are we so afraid to take chances? Why are we so afraid to fail?

Today, does the Filipino fear the law? Do we fear the repercussions? Do we even think of the repercussions? Perhaps, this too is an awakening for those of us living in ivory towers. Maybe those nostalgic images were just vivid fantasies, and that changing our society is going to take much longer, and the changes must run deeper. Like many things wrong with our society, change begin in us, not the government not that neighbor of yours. In. Us. As the Weepies song goes, “Why everybody wishes they were somewhere else, but in the end, the only steps that matter are the ones you take all by yourself.”

Photo credit: Some rights reserved by wili_hybrid

Jinggoy versus Mrs. Ligot

At the tail-end of this morning’s Senate blue ribbon hearing on corruption in the AFP, Mrs. Ligot, wife of alleged plunderer Gen. Jacinto Ligot, turned the table on Sen. Jinggoy Estrada.

Kasi naman this Jinggoy was pursuing a method and line of questioning that only happens in the movies. He thought that he could trick Mrs. Ligot into answering seemingly innocuous questions then pounce on her so that she breaks down and makes a dramatic admission of guilt in the end.

So there was a short back and forth between them towards the end of the hearing. Mrs. Ligot called Jinggoy “honorable”, in a very cool but sarcastic manner. And Jinggoy went, I don’t want to cite you for contempt for not answering my innocent questions but you are forcing my hand. To which Mrs. Ligot replied, you know my lawyer told me to invoke my rights whenever you ask questions related to my pending cases but you still keep asking me to answer those questions even though you already know what my answer will be. So it was like a mother talking to a pesky brat.

Today’s Senate blue ribbon hearing ended up like one of those movies where I found myself cheering for the bad guys because the good guy is a grandstanding asshole and a nincompoop to boot.

Praise he can do without

Patricia Daza, spokeswoman of the late Angelo Reyes, should learn to be more careful.

In an interview with Noli De Castro on TV Patrol, Daza’s praise for Reyes actually diminished the man.

Excerpts from the interview:

    Noli de Castro (NDC): Magandang gabi, Pat. Nakikiramay kami sa pamilya Reyes.

    Patricia Daza (PD): Maganda gabi, Kabayan.

    NDC: Nagkita tayo together with Secretary Reyes noon dito sa ABS-CBN at medyo napapansin ko hindi ganoon ang kanyang itsura noong kami’y magkasama sa Gabinete. At iyon ay hindi pa lumalabas ang isyu ni Rabusa kundi iyon pa lang may mambabatas na isinasangkot siya sa kaso ni General Garcia. Lagi kayong magkasama, inaalalayan mo siya Pat, ano ba ang sinasabi niya sa ‘yo, siya ba ay may hinanakit talaga?

    PD: Ang sinasabi lang niya parati sa akin, kasi ang sinasabi ko parati kay sir, ‘sir, kamusta kayo? Okay lang ba kayo?’ ‘Okay lang tayo, okay lang tayo, Pat. Huwag kang mag-alala, okay lang tayo.’ ‘Ganyan talaga,’ sabi niya, ‘hindi tayo nakaupo ngayon. Weather-weather lang talaga iyan.’ He always made light of situation. That’s why it was very shocking when I heard the news.

    Kasi, Kabayan, nandoon ka nga, magkasama tayo sa dressing room mo noong in-interview siya ng TV Patrol. At si Secretary Reyes, to the end, ayaw niya talagang manlaglag.

    Hindi ba sinasabi mo nga sa kanya ‘Angie, magsalita ka na, magsalita ka na’ hindi ba Kabayan? ‘Mahirap, mahirap, Kabayan.’ Sabi niya, ‘Hindi ako ganoon, ayaw ko magsalita. Ayaw ko magsangkot ng ibang tao.’ Tapos sinasabi mo, ‘Angie, dinidikdik ka na.’ Sabi niya ‘Hindi bale na, ako na lang, ako na lang.’ So talagang until the end, he was really a man of honor, gentleman talaga at ayaw niya talaga mangdawit ng tao.

Schumey of The Philippine Experience pointed out a bit of revisionism in the claim that hindi marunong manglaglag si Reyes.

    “hindi siya nang-lalaglag and yet back in ’01, at the height of the calls for a disgraced but popular president to step down, he withdrew his support for the constitutionally elected president. Di ba pan-lalaglag yon?”

Here’s some unsolicited advice for the relatives, friends, and supporters of Reyes:

Ask for a thorough investigation of the allegations against him. It’s the only way to clear his name.

The Daily Roundup: 9 February 2011

Death was honorable way out for Reyes by Ron Gagalac

The suicide of former Armed Forces Chief of Staff Angelo Reyes was his “honorable way out,” University of the Philippines political scientist Dr. Clarita Carlos said.

She compared Reyes’ decision to ancient Japanese warriors committing ritual suicide when they lose honor and dignity.

“It’s ‘hara-kiri.’ It’s the honorable way out, a combination of loss of hope, loss of self esteem, the shame factor,” she said.

Read more at ABS-CBN News

Arroyo hails Reyes for ‘courage, patriotic service’by Lira Dalangin-Fernandez

Former president and Pampanga Representative Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo hailed former Defense Secretary Angelo Reyes for his “courage and patriotic service” as she condoled with his family over the untimely death.

“We join the family, friends and colleagues of Secretary Angelo Reyes in mourning his tragic passing. … We pray for the repose of his soul, and call on our people to remember above all his courage and patriotic service,” Arroyo said through her spokesperson Elena Horn-Bautista.

Read more at The Philippine Daily Inquirer

Global crisis pushed more families into povertyby Darwin G. Amojelar

THE impact of the global financial crisis and the calamities that struck the country have resulted in more poor Filipino families, the government reported Tuesday.

In its 2009 Official Poverty Statistics report, the National Statistical Coordination Board (NSCB) said poor Filipino families numbered 3.86 million, up from 3.67 million in 2006, using the new methodology.

Using the old methodology, the number of poor households reached 4.9 million in 2009, higher than the 4.7 million in 2006.

Read more at The Manila Times

NSCB ‘frees’ 9M from povertyby Angela Celis

A total of 9 million Filipinos who have not seen any improvement in their material circumstances have been freed from poverty under a new way of computing the cost of food and other methodological “refinements” adopted by the National Statistical Coordination Board.

Under the new methodology, the NSCO placed the poverty incidence at 26.5 percent in 2009, a slight increase from 26.4 percent in 2006.

Under the old methodology, the poverty incidence was 37.3 percent in 2009 and 36.16 percent in 2006.

Read more at Malaya

Birthday wish: Make people’s lives betterby Jocelyn Montemayor

PRESIDENT Aquino on his 51st birthday yesterday made a commitment to work doubly hard to better the lives of Filipinos soonest.

In an ambush interview at a medical-dental mission organized in his honor by the Office of the President, Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office, Department of Social Welfare and Development, and the Presidential Security Group at the Chino Roces Bridge parking area outside Malacañang Palace, Aquino said he no longer has any wishes to make for himself.

He said he is more interested in the “transformation of society for the betterment of our people’s lives at a faster pace than what we have so far managed to achieve.”

Read more at Malaya

Disappointing 2011 budgetby Benjamin E. Diokno

Policymakers who look up to the public sector as a major source of growth in 2011 are in for a major disappointment. Planned public spending, net of debt service, is expected to contract in real terms. Direct spending for public infrastructure is expected to slow, too, as appropriations for various public works decline. This, combined with the shrinking list of public-private partnership (PPP) projects that are ready to be bid and implemented this year, will mean another slow year for public construction.

Expectedly, the fastest growing item in the 2011 national budget is interest payments — from P276 billion in 2010 to P357 billion in 2011, or by a whopping 29.3%.

Total planned government spending, net of interest payments, is expected to increase from P1.249 trillion in 2010 to P1.273 trillion in 2011, or by a measly 1.9%. Corrected for inflation, which is forecast to range from 4% to 5%, the productive part of the budget is expected to decline by 2.1% to 3.1%.

Read more at Business World

“Businessmen to government: be consistent” by Max V. De Leon

THE government needs to come up with clear protection from regulatory, legislative and judicial risks for long-term investors, as well as immediately resolve previous build-operate-transfer (BOT) projects that went wrong, to be able to persuade the international investment community to participate in the administration’s public-private partnership (PPP) projects.

The Joint Foreign Chambers (JFC) made this clear in a forum organized by the Board of Investments (BOI) on Tuesday for the diplomatic community and foreign chambers on the PPP program.

Trade Undersecretary and BOI managing head Cristino L. Panlilio assured the investors that Malacañang’s economic team is working on the measures to protect investors from these risks and uncertainties.

Read more at Business Mirror

Cabinet changes due next weekby Jocelyn Montemayor

PRESIDENT Aquino yesterday said he will announce changes in the Cabinet by next week.

The President, in an ambush interview at the medical-dental mission sponsored by the Office of the President at the Chino Roces Bridge to mark his 51st birthday, declined to give details on who will be affected.

“Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr will be in the better position to tell you the exact date,” he said.

Read more at Malaya

Senator Kiko Pangilinan’s statement on the death of former AFP Chief of Staff and Defense Secretary Angelo Reyes

We are deeply saddened by the turn of events. We condole with the family of the late Secretary Angelo Reyes. It is tragic that what started out as an investigation in aid of legislation has led to his apparent suicide. Death is not a graceful exit to such a distinguished officer as Secretary Reyes. A more honorable way would have been to come out with the truth and win back the admiration of his fellow soldiers. This is now the challenge the other generals are facing. Read more

AFP Chief of Staff, Secretary Angelo Reyes dead in apparent suicide

See also: Former DND Secretary Angelo Reyes commits suicide.

News broke this morning that former AFP Chief of Staff and former Energy and Environment Secretary, Angelo Reyes, has died in an apparent suicide. This comes at the heels of the Senate and congressional hearings involving the plunder case and plea bargain of former AFP comptroller, Maj. Gen. Carlos Garcia, and the ensuing issues of the “pabaon” and “pasalubong” system in the military that were exposed by whistle-blower George Rabusa.

The Inquirer published this story on Reyes’ death:

Angelo Reyes commits suicide

MANILA, Philippines—(UPDATE) Former Armed Forces Chief and Defense Secretary Angelo Tomas Reyes on Tuesday morning committed suicide by shooting himself in front of the grave of his mother at the Loyola Memorial Park in Marikina City. A close friend of Reyes called the Philippine Daily Inquirer to break the news, while Colonel Boogie De Leon, a former administrative officer of Reyes when he was AFP chief, said Reyes was rushed to the Quirino Hospital at about 7:45 a.m. to revive him. Members of his family could not be reached for comment.

De Leon said that Reyes’s son Jett called him up to inform him of the incident.

Reyes, who earlier suffered a mild stroke before the congressional investigations on the alleged AFP financial irregularities, said he could not take anymore the smear campaign against his name and his family.

“Not my family,” he said.

Reyes, who loved his mother very much when she was still alive, earlier told the Philippine Daily Inquirer in an interview that he would never do anything that would besmirch the name of “my good mother.” Reyes, a graduate of Philippine Military Academy Class ’66, was AFP chief under President Joseph Estrada, and secretary of defense, interior and local government, and energy during the term of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo from 2001 to 2003. He graduated as the class valedictorian in high school and was among the top ten graduates of the PMA.

He went on to obtain two masteral degrees, namely: Masters in Business Administration from Asian Institute of Management in 1973 and a Master of Public Administration from Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government in 1991. He also took up International Defense Management Course in Monterey, California in 1983.

In 1987, he graduated No. 1 in Trust Operations Management Course conducted by the Trust Institutes Foundation of the Philippines at the Ateneo Business School which eventually earned him a scholarship to the Northwestern University in Chicago, Illinois.

By Cynthia Balana of Philippine Daily Inquirer

Photo by Philippine Daily Inquirer