Friday, November 8, 2013

The Search For An Honest Man In The Philippines

The Search For An Honest
Man In The Philippines

 I Am Not A Thief -- Aquino

Edwin A. Sumcad, PAR Columnist

     Just recently, the pig-fat or pork barrel corruption in the Philippines had a nasty turn.  In a rare appearance at TV prime time, President Benigno Aquino III [Noynoy] had to explain to the public his massive presidential pork barrel – actually, another form of thievery otherwise legalized by cohorts in the Philippine Congress, as Aquino’s Disbursement Acceleration Fund [DAP].

    If we talk about the size of this huge congressional largesse ritually and politically given to Noynoy in a Silver Platter budgetary offering from those notorious bargaining-bootlickers in Congress, even if the whole pork barrels of Senators and Congressmen are summed up all together, still Aquino’s pig-fat is so enormous that the politicians’ P10 billion loot pales in comparison … just a drop in the bucket, so to speak!

     “I am not a thief!” Noynoy fumed mad with rage at his distractors.  Well, obviously that presidential outburst was suspicious and foreboding, if not clearly cynical. 

      What Noynoy was trying to say was that he was an honest man. That makes thievery of public fund more portentous and covertly, more menacingly threatening.

     Unfortunately, aside from what it says on the record, i. e., on record, former Speaker Manny Villar had pointed an accusing finger to Noynoy as his very dishonest rival candidate for president in May 2010 in connection with the theft of public funds in the Appropriation Act passed by Congress – published corruption shown in road constructions leading to Hacienda Luisita, just to mention one of the really big ones so far.

      Similarly, opinion writers and several newspapers in the Philippines, especially the Daily Inquirer, one of the leading dailies in Metro Manila, had written and published the contrary to what Noynoy was saying that he was “not a thief”. 

     Several community newspapers in the U.S., particularly in Southern California like the Philippines & Asian Report, are merely echoing the sound-bytes of corruption in the Philippines, although editorial analysts here in the United States are generally no less incisive or global-wise perhaps even more insightful or razor-sharp compared to their counterparts in Metro Manila.  They are not beholden to Political Dynasties that hold the Philippines by the nose and run the country anyway they want.

     For me as a PAR columnist and Internet editorial writer, my take on this issue is very simple: The truth is, if only an honest man could be found in the Philippines, that man could lead the transformation of a rotten society and liberate the people from moral bankruptcy.

     But it is only an altruistic philosophical search common to life-scoffers everywhere called “critics” or “philosophers” in their futile quest for the truth if an honest man really exists, especially in the Philippines. Centuries ago Diogenes, the Cynic spent his entire life walking the streets during daytime up to late at night with a lighted lantern searching for an honest man he never found until he died in Corinth in 323 BC.

      Diogenes’ brand of philosophy is to criticize the social values and institutions of a corrupt society, which is exactly what development journalists like me do in our written and published editorial reports and/or critiques.

     For example, Diogenes and I are similar in that sense of criticizing corruption but at the same time he and I have a mountain of dissimilarities separating us.  This contrast differentiates one from the other.

     But first let’s know more about this noted philosopher of the ancient time: Diogenes was born in Sinope [Turkey]. Reports had it that he died of self-induced asphyxiation simply by cynically holding his breath to the end. [1] He was in the company of his two dogs when he died because as a cynic, he believed dogs are better company than humans.  Humans are “liars” when they open their mouth, while dogs are truthful -- dogs bark only at the truth.

     Although Diogenes and editorial writers like me are both critics of a degenerate society worse than Sodom and Gomorrah, the marked difference between me and the likes of Diogenes is that cynics criticize out of spite, while my kind criticize out of hindsight.

     Diogenes’ kind is spiteful while I consider the likes of me in what is now known as grassroots journalism, as expediently useful as the immense value of the freedom of expression and whatever the immeasurable worth of the 4th Estate to our modern society are to this day.

     For instance, I and my kind geared our criticisms towards nation-building.  My kind is a clarifier of historic events; in my own particular editorial critique, I heat up a little bit the fats of decision-makers that rewrite history. The idea is to melt and liquefy them and filter or separate their impurities, i.e. ego-massaging, self-enrichment, artificial work-over, blind-folding and propaganda, dishonesty, corruption, etc., to make the point of national concerns clear and pure for ordinary people to understand and react accordingly.

    To illustrate: In May 2010, Filipinos thought they found an honest man by electing Noynoy president like when they elected Cory Aquino, Ramos, Estrada and Arroyo presidents. This has to be clarified by pointing out the fact that such decisions were costly mistakes the nation had to pay dearly. The terrible consequence of that miscalculation, dishonesty and corruptions in all gamut of society, was the sucking and the slurping of the lifeblood of the Filipino people by political vampires, turning the nation into one of the poorest in Asia.

     It is almost impossible to successfully deny that a number of Filipinos although not yet that too many of them, have started to realize Noynoy is NOT the “honest man” they have been looking for, one who is honest enough to “transform society” to a better one.  Instead, as corruptions continue unabated, Filipinos are experiencing a transformation of society from bad to worse … not to a better society but to a bitter one. I am referring to the changing of Philippine society which Noynoy himself dishonestly speechified [orally falsified in public] and lately, falsely barked about [lectured] in his 2013 4th SONA. 

     And so the Filipinos’ search for an honest man goes on. The futility of finding an honest man and turtle-driving in the humid, suffocating heat of the traffic-snarled streets of Metro Manila when EDSA demonstrators are not using them regularly, are almost the same -- you don’t need to be there to breathe a lot of carbon dioxide into your lungs to know that heavy pollution and pervasive desperation are in the air.

    I myself am disheartened every time I write about the futility of searching an honest man in the corridor of power more particularly in the Philippines, a country not only economically emaciated and marginalized -- and its once glorious eminence in the gallery of developing nations miniaturized by dishonesty and moral debauchery in the eyes of the world -- but a country that missed the golden opportunity to develop itself into a model nation in Asia as the IMF and World Bank once envisioned, because this Island Republic was totally devastated by Corruption.

    The reason for my disappointment is hard to question; it is unshakable, although many times I challenged it myself believing that for the fallen there is always redemption. But the ugly truth behind it stares back at me menacingly … it was as strong as Fort Knox – impregnable, invulnerable and unassailable.

      Another way of saying it to drive home this point is that if it is hard to find a needle in a haystack, it is even harder to find an honest president in the Philippines since the time of President Ramon Magsaysay fifty-six years ago. Today to find an honest man among the “trapos” [rags, discards, garbage or disposable politicians] in the Philippine Congress and in the corrupt Judiciary is not only much harder but impossible … a dead end the unlikelihood of which is comparable to the impossibility of the crow turning white.

    On point of public enlightenment, I am likewise disappointed to discover that only few scholars know what this search for an honest man actually means, even as I lament the fact that inside and outside the Academe even if scholars and professors knew, they are bereft of that civic-mindedness society needed badly – which is the lack of eagerness and enthusiasm on their part -- to share with the public gratis et amore what they knew unless they are paid for their labor under the atmosphere of academic freedom they enjoy.  Thus regrettably, to discover what lies behind this search for an honest man and understanding what it means, is practically nil to the layman.

     I learned the true meaning of this enigma – the metaphorical appeal of this philosophical conundrum if you may -- many years back when I studied Victorian Literature in the Faculty of Philosophy & Letters, University of Santo Tomas, the first and oldest university in the Far East ran by The Dominican Order of Preachers [Ordo Praedicatorum], a Catholic institution of higher learning seven years older than the United States’ Harvard University. 

     It was in UST – by the way, it was neither in the graduate school of law and practice of law or specialized studies of IMF-World Bank monetary economics, UN-Asian Development Institute that I have struggled in years to have, nor in the United Nations where I have been for more than a decade and a half -- where I discovered the euphemism and dysphemism [cynicism] of orthodox philosophical languages and expressions as they apply to real life. It was part of the study of Literature and Philosophy & Letters where I earned a diploma inscribed in Latin.

     In deference to scholars and secretive scientists who we know hardly communalize what they know for reasons of their own, I want to share – at least through this column and through other global venues of expressions and communication that writers of my kind avail themselves of -- my little light of knowledge … share it with the world at large, just for the pleasure of sharing, and nothing more.  You will find this sharing of light of knowledge I am talking about when you search for and click my name in Google or Yahoo.

     Right now, this is what I am sharing with you: The reason this honest man could not be found is because in real life, he does not exist -- at least that’s what the philosophy of cynical demagogues like Diogenes is all about.

     Since there is this oblique belief that in real life an honest person does not exist, the people, especially the most dishonest of them all, became CYNICAL – the case of Diogenes, the Cynic. 

     The misanthropic or the scornful and the sardonic, would demonstrate by walking the streets holding a lighted lantern looking for an honest man like Diogenes did in a manner of speaking, to prove that society is hypocritical.

    Unfortunately, what is NOT known of Diogenes, the Cynic, was that he and his father had been accused of “embezzling money from the Corinthian mint”. [1] It turned out that they themselves were among the most dishonest people of Corinth that the townsfolk despised.

     Feeling outcast, Diogenes became more eccentric and cynical; he lived publicly in a huge tub he had improvised as a living quarter. He lived in that container alone by himself in the company of his two dogs while searching for an honest man he never found.  That’s how the world came to know him as Diogenes, the Cynic.

    It is in this sense why like Diogenes Filipinos likewise appear cynical and spiteful.  They have been looking for an honest man perhaps even knowing that such man does not exist. To spite the world in this manner was exactly what Diogenes did to the Corinthians.

     But unknown to many, the real cause of the problem was the fact that Diogenes let corruption control his life as Filipinos let corruption control their life.  In spite of his philosophical wisdom, he did not resist the temptation, and instead, accepted corruption as a way of life.

     In the same way, the majority of the population of the Philippines, especially the mammoth “bakya” crowd that decides the future of the country in the parliament of the streets [EDSA], had tolerated Political Dynasties to control their lives, and accepted corruption as a way of life.  In fact they elected Benigno Aquino III president who is currently the head of all Political Dynasties that through years of exploitation and corruption had emaciated the country to penury. In this case, the accusing finger of error points back at them.

     The trusting Filipino people, including those with good intentions, are hardly aware of what they have elected to the presidency for the next six years.  The truth is, it is really not about “who” they elect, but about what they elected, is capable of doing, or incapable of doing as president whom unfortunately they thought was capable, sincere and honest. Sadly all of these were missing. 

    What they elected as president was a political magician who abracadabra them into believing that he was against “publicly” committed anomaly of his Administration, and that he was fighting corruption for the good of the commonweal. I emphasized “publicly” because corruption is definitely okay so long as it is hidden from the public.

     Thus because of his dishonesty, Diogenes was cynical when he said he was looking for an honest man that does not exist.

     So was Noynoy when he said he was “not a thief” -- which, to me, clearly sounded cynical … an illusion if not a delusion -- when in fact the record says the contrary, and the looting and thievery of public funds, corruption and plunder captured and reported by the Media, prove otherwise.


© Copyright Edwin A. Sumcad. Access November 11, 2013.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Walpurgis Night: Politicians Celebrate Their Halloween

Edwin A. Sumcad, PAR Columnist:

   I want to entertain you with a Halloween satire and parody. I hope it doesn’t scare the wit out of you. Walpurgis Night falls on April 30, the night when witches have fun riding their broomsticks. It is the night we confront the powers of the supernatural. It is similar to Halloween when the underworld boos frightened humans out of their cuckoo nest. U.S. Political Halloween In the United States, politicians had already started celebrating their Halloween before the 31st of this month of October. As you can see, hell broke loose. For, it is the time they “raise hell with something to cause harm, disruption, or damage” to the public. [1]
      For example, we have a government shutdown right now. Republicans in Congress wanted a government blackout because of Obamacare – I mean ObamaScare. They don’t care if as a result life is screwed up. That’s why Halloween week is always nostalgic to me. Halloween is October 31st, which is also just about four or five days before Election Day in the U.S. Although this short period of time between Halloween and Election Day is frightening, at the same time it is also exciting; it is like the last ten-second-bell in boxing for presidential candidates to fire their last salvo -- their state-of-the-art treats or tricks, to win the verdict of the voting public.
      The American public remembers vividly what happened in the 2008 presidential election. In the final “10-seconds” of presidential round so to speak, Obama knocked out rival McCain with his horrifying treat or trick punch. The verdict went to Obama winning the electoral votes by 52.9% to McCain’s 45.7%.
    McCain was as tricky and hideous as Obama was, but hey, that was an unforgettable political Halloween Day in the United States, the dark Fright Night of nocturnal creatures that frighten Halloween buffs. Obama, the winner, proved to be not only cleverly inexplicable but also very scary. Think about it: Obama had this frightening story of egalitarian wealth redistribution that makes the rich wet in their pants.
   American capitalists always fear that Obama would turn the country upside down and with it goes their fortune, power and control of society. Now that Obama is president, he is a political warlock that he promised himself to be, and scarier than ever before. Look how he frightens the faint-hearted with medical bills paid by higher taxes [damn that Obamacare], bailout binge, giant bureaucracy and burgeoning out-of-this-world government spending, while turning the country into a welfare state.
    The “change” Obama dreamed of – a legacy of “The Dream” of his socialist father – I suspect, is to rename this country Socialist Republic of America. Is there any doubt that the prospect of this happening is startling and petrifying? Most frightened Americans perceived that in a class war, Obama would level off the status and social standing of all Americans in America where there will be neither poor nor rich. Americans will live in a classless society of the Socialist Republic of America.
Today millions of Americans are still paralyzed with fear because of Obama’s geopolitical Halloween tricks. This class-leveling is just one of them. Then presidential candidate Sen. John McCain’s Halloween jargon was more anecdotal although no less scary. McCain speechified that Obama was a ghost with ghost-like promises … elect him president and he will disappear like Gaspar the Ghost, from his world of promises to help the poor.
    Republican buffs put words in McCain’s mouth saying that if Obama “kills” corporations with multiple and retributive taxes to raise revenue for his trillion-dollar government spending because as a Marxist socialist he hates the rich, big taxpayers will leave the country. Millions of jobs will be lost, and Obama nails the “Middle Class” to the Cross of penury, and consigns “the poor”, to a grinding poverty. In Greek mythology, Hades, the god of the underworld, then rules the country.
    It was really a good try, boys.
    Anyway, McCain’s punch line which he had hoped would have knocked out Obama was: Obama is a political chameleon who does not openly scare you. In straight talk, I scare you. In this contest as to who between the two of us scares you most, I am the scariest Halloween candidate you want to vote. That was McCain’s scary tale in Halloween just prior to Election Day. Now we still hear him, but no longer louder than a drop of a pin.
The problem with McCain was, immediately prior to Election Day, the threatening pro-Obama polls of victory hanged like the Sword of Damocles over his head. The great Republican Roman orator and statesman Cicero describes the Sword of Damocles in his Tusculan Disputations as something dreadfully foreboding, like a rapier that hangs by a thread over one’s head that could snap anytime without any hint or warning.
   It did … The thread snapped and dropped on McCain’s head and like the guillotine of the olden days when aristocrats literally lost their heads, cut the neck of his Democrat-Republican Party. The truth was, McCain ran for president as a Republican, but actually in his campaign he was a Democrat. The Republican voters found him to be a phony Republican, and the Democrat electorate found him to be a fake Democrat.
     McCain therefore could be described as a political troll, all right, but like the nocturnal bat that is neither beast nor bird, he was not totally perceived as genuinely murderous or apocalyptic enough to win the public nod as the scariest of them all.
     Nuisance candidates during the 2008 presidential campaign also showed their Halloween antics. Like Dracula they came out bravely under the sun daring to be pulverized to dust by cosmic radiation. They were indeed turned to dust and swept not to the dustbin of history but swept only under the rug hoping to come out again when the next presidential wind blows. They lived up to the literal meaning of perennial candidates that never lose – never lose the desire to run as a public nuisance.
     The point of their relevance why I have to mention their annoying participation in the 2008 presidential election is the fact that they gave Obama and McCain a run for their money as to who among them was the most annoying candidate in the eyes of the American public.
  From the geopolitical sector, Ralph Nader is on top of the list. A never-win scarecrow candidate, he keeps on trying to become president until he dies or when the frightened crow turns white, whichever comes first.
    Evangelical rivals are tough competitors too who joined politics’ underworld creatures of the third kind. On record, the religious front has an army of those political dryads running for president.
  I’ll just pick Chuck Baldwin at random, a political pastor moonlighting as a radio host of Florida who is an everlasting presidential candidate not necessarily of but only for the Constitution Party. Chuck always sends his targets including me an e-mail trying to convince all and sundry that he was the hope of the fatherland once elected president. Then he asked for money to make that happen.
   Claiming as a champion of morality, the thought of an evangelical candidate begging for money to secure himself in politics drops my jaw to the floor. I was in a shock that in the eyes of the Lord what Chuck was doing was a biblical sin perhaps worse than that debauchery which led to the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah by a rain of fire and brimstones.
   But the looniest of them all that mainstream Americans fear the most in the lineup of never-win everlasting presidential candidates was Congressman Ron Paul of Texas. He was always a presidential candidate since the first Pilgrim ship Mayflower landed in Virginia, possibly at Cape Cod, just to give you an idea, a metaphor of time reminding you how long ago that was.
     Paul’s dream when he is president is to abolish the Federal Reserves, put an end to taxation, obliterate the United Nations from the face of the earth, defund the nation’s national security program which to him infringes on human rights, including the stoppage of security-check in the airport; to eliminate TSA and the FDA, and declare into law the right to drink unpasteurized raw milk and eat uninspected milk products and farm produce as an absolute freedom of the individual. 
  Can you show me a perennial non-electable presidential candidate extremely menacing than this “oddball” from Texas? We can live in a ghost house and survive the haunting, but I doubt if any of us can survive Ron Paul’s America in a world without international order [no United Nations] in this Armageddon-threatening nuclear age; a new America without a central bank, without revenue, no national security, but with a lot of freedom to drink raw milk and die of Salmonella, E-Coli and Listeria, also a lot of liberty and freedom to die in the hands of local bombers, murderers and serial killers.
     To him 911 was the fault of America, not of Jihad terrorists that killed more than 6,000 innocent civilians in New York.

     Political Halloween in the Philippines

    But in the Philippines, every day is a Halloween Day of Corruption. Dark shadows of evil gather together and celebrate Halloween not just on October 31st but every day except on November 1st which is All Saints Day. Groteque-looking monsters whose moral DNA had been altered by corruption the most fearsome of which are the Undead in the graveyard of Philippine politics are said to be resting in All Saints Day.
     Unlike in the United States, Filipinos don’t have to wait from 4 to 5 days following October 31st before the final 10-second- bell of Election Day rings to get the shock of their life. Horror stories of the Celtic people centuries ago are the most spine-tingling scream-fear of moral depravity and corruption in the Philippines run by Political Dynasties also called Political Vampires that suck the lifeblood of the nation for years.      In the August 19/13 issue of the Philippines & Asian Report, I warned Philippine residents to brace themselves with a tsunami of corruptions coming their way before President Benigno Aquino III finishes a corrupt and corrupting six-year term in office. [See “Fanatics, Corruption And The Slaying Of The Undead”, [PAR, August 19, 2013]. Even as we speak, massive corruption already weighs heavily on the back of the Aquino administration. Many expect the Aquino administration to collapse under the heavy weight of indescribable anomalies.
    The pig-fat I was referring to in the previous edition of this column which was yummy-yummy to every salivating Congressperson and Senator is by law called “Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF]”, also notoriously known as pork barrel. Parasite politicians who prepare and pass the yearly Appropriation Act [Budget] into law for their benefit, had fattened this largesse from P24.79 billion [2013] to P25.24 billion [2014] for the gluttons of Congress to feast on. Every Senator would get a bite of P200 million out of this pig-fat, while Congressperson will share P70 million each supposedly earmarked for development projects in their respective districts. The pig-fat-subsisting members of the 15th Congress numbering 287 added more open mouths to feed in the coming 16th Congress totaling 292 Congresspersons in all.  
     Luckily, the Senate did not produce more PDAF “crocodiles” in their ranks. True to my latest warning of a tsunami of corruption in my previous column, right now a massive pig-fat investigation is underway. Spot-lighted is the P10 billion pork barrel syphoned by members of Congress through a bogus intermediary named JLN Corporation owned by Janet Lim-Napoles. To steal a pork barrel, Janet reportedly acted like a “pimp” between her Dummy Corporation and corrupt members of Congress.
    A “pimp” is described in the dictionary as a person soliciting for hookers or prostitutes.
     This woman reportedly solicited customers in Congress to engage the services of the JLN Corporation she owns. JLN would handle projects for the Senator or Congressman to be funded by their pork barrel. But the allocated pork barrel fund bounces back to her client politician, allegedly charging only a marginal amount of “fees” from 10% to 15% of the whole cost of the project/s. These are reportedly “ghost projects”, and the money goes back to the politician in a clandestine under the table transaction. The woman had become an overnight millionaire. A cover-up investigation is conducted by the Aquino administration. Janet surrendered personally to Noynoy, and detained under protective custody in a military camp pending investigation.
     It was like surrendering to a Godfather, opponents opined. Some politicians and accomplices involved had also reportedly fled the country. It is presumed a cover-up investigation because the public is aware that the president himself is behind the emergence and even the increased amount of pork barrels. Since Noynoy knew that pork barrel in the Philippines is one of the major causes of corruption, he would have made a move to abolish instead of patronize it. But his “daang matuwid” and “there is no poverty if there is no corruption” slogans for the transparent and honest government he was boosting about, were just fa├žade, a cover-up.
    Obviously President Noynoy is not striking out pork barrel but instead protecting it for the politicians he is reportedly in cahoots with. As president, Noynoy himself has a “P1.3 trillion” pork barrel. [2] In comparison, the staggering amount makes the pork barrels of politicians in Congress appear just like peanuts in size.
    Not quite known to most if not all Filipinos is the fact that they have elected to office a pork-barrel-president! But the public haven’t seen a gigantic tsunami of corruption coming yet. Watch out for the P399 billion infrastructure projects that the Aquino administration proposed for the year 2014. This will rise to P820 billion [approximately 5% of the GDP] by the year 2016.
    Whose pocket will bulge and break at the seam filled with bribes and kickbacks, is currently a betting game among wagers of doom. Payback-time or the day of “hanging” will come when the heavy load of corruptions breaks the camel’s back so to speak, or when the pressured Aquino resigns or like a Samurai under Japan’s unwritten Code of Conscience, commits a disembowelment with a sword [hara-kiri], whichever of these terrible ending comes first.
      I said it once before in my previous column – and here I say it again – this is for the next EDSA mob to decide. In comparison, U.S. political Halloween is David to the Philippines’ Goliath. It is so scary because a bloody Hail Mary [EDSA III] is just around the corner. #

© Copyright Edwin A. Sumcad. Access PAR October 21, 2013.