CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY (MindaNews/07 June)–Our society needs a reality check. It’s already 27 years since the Edsa Revolution. Yet you’d think Marcos’s “New Society” is back! As if Edsa ’86 never happened!
Look around today: there they are, back in full force, starting with the Departed One with an omnipresence, very much around though immobile because he is confined to an air-conditioned casket.
There’s the conjugal half of the dictatorship, now in congress, her male offspring and presumptive heir to a devoutly-to-be-recovered-throne in tow while others await future anointment.
Behold how she hobnobs with high society and sycophants all over the place. It’s as if she never left. It’s as if her throne stands ever ready, always furbished for the time she may deign to seat her royal behind on it.
Behold how, back in power, she swirls around in splendor: dressed in finery, delicately shod, daintily powdered, coiffed, gaudy and bejeweled. Behold how she holds court and twirls the media around her little finger, spouting the usual clichés and bromides, ever pedantic.
Behold her daughter, Imee, fully grown, 2nd term governor, possessing political power of her own, now keeper of pelf they were told belonged to them but which everyone knows are ill-gotten or purloined.
Note how the younger Bongbong, now a senator, bides his time, ever preening before the mirror of public regard, carrying on as if it’s only a matter of time before he claims his “birthright”—as President Ferdinand the Second!
Behold their sycophants and accomplices, partners to the preservation of coerced power and hidden wealth, safe-keepers, adjutants, co-adjutors of the “New Society.” One, Vilma Bautista, is on trial facing charges in New York of fencing off or peddling paintings belonging to the government, which were spirited out of the East 66th Street Townhouse in Manhattan while no one was looking in 1986.
Behold Juan Ponce Enrile, igniter and legitimizer of Martial Law, remorseless executor of Strongman Edicts; ever clever, deft deflector of criticism, artful dodger of accountability before, during, and after the glow. Behold how he is tended by the ever-loyal aide-de camp (“I would take a bullet for him!”) lock-step with him through the gloom of a suppressed society to the dawn of People Power, then together richly partaking of the feast of freedom, after the latter parlayed a series of violent coup attempts into a senate career.
Does anyone notice how other assorted “lucky” heirs and assigns of the old “new Society” carry on and dominate so much of the play in today’s society?” So lucky are they that they win what is virtually a Super Mega Lotto-Plus game year after year.
Well, not really Lotto, but bigger—the Game of Pork! Mega Super Pork allocations and commissions, plus more, year after year, for the scions and heirs of Marcos, cabinet members and confidants. So young, so lucky!
Behold Chiz Escudero, his father, Salvador, Marcos’s last Minister and Lord of Agriculture. Fabulously rich in his own right today, Chiz is backed by a Senate Pork allocation of P 200 million yearly (since 2007) plus other emoluments and sources from multiple tasks, from which no one knows how much is earned or unearned. Already into his 7th year in the senate, no less than P 1.2 billion in Pork has passed through his ministry, more of the same till 2019!. Is there anyone luckier in affairs of the Heart or of the Pocket?
Behold siblings Alan Peter and Pia Cayetano whose father Renato, Enrile’s law partner, Gringo’s lawyer, became senator himself. Are there other Filipino siblings (who are not scions of Chinoy billionaires or Fortune 500 tycoons) that enjoy such undreamed-of riches simply by attending sessions or grandstanding in committees? Between Alan and Pia, at least P 400 million in annual Pork allocations are expended by government—of which only God knows how much lands in their pockets over their years in office!
Not to be outdone in the art of turning public service into a family enterprise, Erap (Joseph Ejercito, alias Estrada) himself, now mayor of Manila, have long been in on the act. And his offspring, the Ejercito/Estrada half brothers. Jinggoy and JV, now both senators, have proved to be quick learners. At P 200 million each per year, they now shower with billions over time to further capitalize their political careers and enrich their lives.
All this profligacy and recklessness of government takes place while millions grovel and scratch for survival in the interstices of our much-abused “New Society.”
You want to learn more? Go to the Batasan and see more “lucky” Filipinos raking in more of our taxes into their pockets, congressmen growing in wealth but not in wisdom year after year after year. Visit also the provincial capitols, the city halls, even the barangay halls, and see how our society’s wealth and our government’s treasury are being systematically drained by political vampires!
Do all these raise the question of whether it is good policy to maintain a nation’s legislature so that stragglers of a discredited regime as well as wily political gamers can turn it into a family enterprise or a milking cow? A reality check is in order! (MindaViews is the opinion section of MindaNews. Manny Valdehuesa is the president and national convenor of Gising Barangay Movement Inc. He can be reached at [email protected])