Wednesday, February 19, 2014

St. Valentine’s Martyrdom And The Filipino People

By Edwin A. Sumcad, PAR Columnist

     Saint Valentine of Rome -- real name Valentinus -- suffered a lot of persecutions under the corruption of the then rising and later dying Roman Empire.

    Valentinus was an extraordinary human being.  He was full of love, so to speak, so that to the Roman Empire, his only fatal mistake in life was his love in performing marriages to couples in love who were in the military, which in Rome was then a criminal offense punishable by death.

     And because of what he was doing, this saintly person was persecuted by the Roman authorities under Emperor Claudius II, arrested, imprisoned and finally executed on February 14, 269 AD. 

    From then on, the Christian world observes Valentine’s Day on February 14 to commemorate Valentinus’ death. The Romans reasoned out to the spying authorities that the purpose in celebrating this event was not subversive but only to “‘Christianize’ the pagan celebration of Lupercalia . . . a fertility festival dedicated to Faunus, the Roman god of agriculture”. [1]

    The idea of love and fertility is symbolic of procreation from the union of man and woman in love that produces and nurtures life on earth; in Literature, its appeal was a legendary epic of enormous proportion.  Novelists and fiction writers are attracted to it, but to my spouse and I who are both journalists and novelette-short story writers of the roaring 70s and early 80s, it is too fabled and mythological at least for me to write about as my idea of a bestseller.

    My better-half Esperanza Lazatin-Sumcad -- whose published short stories have been nominated for Palanca Awards -- had her own different interpretation of Valentine’s Day. But to me the reason for this universal February 14 Cupid celebration, especially among the love-struck young at heart is that if you read the life of Valentinus, what his martyrdom represents is a popular irony of our human feelings of love and hate -- of pure and eternal love that binds two people together, a bond that becomes larger than life itself, and of hate that swears and kills life either in the physical sense or in terms of affectionate relationship of a couple that simply fades away like an early morning mist when the rising sun caught up with it.

    It was because of love that Valentinus is remembered and celebrated to this day, while as if it was only yesterday that also because of love, he was hated by the rulers of a corrupt society, condemned and sentenced to death.

    Like the amorous and affectionate Valentinus, the Filipinos are generally known to be a loving people. They are light-hearted people, always grinning with warm friendship and affection when they talk to strangers. They are such a happy and apologetic smiling people that they stand out in comparison to their Asian neighbors if not the rest of the world. They smile even if their foot is caught in the doorway when someone slams the door to close it either accidentally or intentionally.

    You don’t have to apologize If you happen to be that somebody who slammed the door close, because maybe you were pissed off and want to hurt someone or maybe you were just drunk after a round of Budweiser or San Miguel beer . . . but for whatever reason would that be which made you act like a rascal, it wouldn’t matter anyway. The Filipino in pain because of what you did will say, excuse me sir … sorry sir, my foot was on the way when you closed the door . . . it will never happen again, sir, I promise . . .

     Don’t be surprise.  Generally, that’s how the ordinary Filipino personality distinguishes itself from the rest of the world, that is if a paragon of humility is what you are looking for from a friend you want to keep the rest of your life.

    You may also encounter the opposite of this personality trait in a Filipino relationship particularly in the affairs of the heart, especially if you are a woman of marriageable age.

     You might have probably read in some exotic [not necessarily erotic] magazines, newspapers, tabloids, and all sorts of published literatures about the exploits of dashing, handsome young Filipino men who were written the world over as the “Rudolph Valentinos” of the Far East or the daring “Buccaneers” of the Orient Seas women couldn’t resist of being pirated to become their wife, otherwise those Filipino Romeos are simply known as the swashbuckling Latin Lovers of Asia.

    But again in general, like Valentinus of Rome, Filipinos are always known to be a loving people. 

     The only difference is, hiding behind that endearing smile of Filipinos you met is their own martyrdom under the exploitative regimes of venalities and corruption they have to live with every day in their homeland.  That misery continues to this day under the regime of President Benigno Aquino III -- “Noynoy” for short -- who critics believe rules the country as bad as Emperor Claudius II ruled Rome in 269 AD.

    I will tell you why critics might have thought that Noynoy is the reincarnation of Claudius Gothicus, Roman Emperor [Claudius II, 268-270 AD] who gave St. Valentine a hard time like what Noynoy is doing to Filipinos in the Philippines today.

    When Noynoy delivered his latest State of the Nation Address [SONA ] in July 2013, he was singing a different song while the Filipino people – still smiling -- are suffering in abject poverty as a result of widespread corruption, exactly like Nero who was singing and playing the harp while Rome was burning.

     In his SONA, Noynoy mesmerized the suffering Filipino people with his grandiose plans and litany of promises to free them from POVERTY, and deceptively hypnotized the innocent and the ignorant of his audience with his fighting words to once and for all stop CORRUPTION under his much publicized “Daang Matuwid” [Straight Path] policy – a good stage material for telling jokes when contestants vie for the Season’s Grand Trophy for The Last Comic Standing, one of NBC TV’s popular shows.


Unemployment and the Bubble of Noynoy’s

success story in reducing poverty in the Philippines


    Noynoy’s Administration is too upbeat if not too pathetically myopic of Philippine reality. Under his so-called Public-Private Partnership Projects, he cited reduction of unemployment in a supposedly robust economy.  But under the result of the Social Weather Stations [SWS] survey, what is shown is far from what is real – it was totally different from what Noynoy was talking about. 

     On the contrary, there is a horrendous job scarcity under the Noynoy Administration.  “In Aquino’s first three years in power, the number of workers who said that they were jobless increased by 2.6 million…” based on SWS polls. [2]

      Poverty is getting worse, SWS says, contrary to Noynoy’s claim that the country’s poverty rate is going down.  When Noynoy started his rule in the middle of 2010, 45.5% of the population was poor; it climbed to 49.3% in 2011, and continued to rise to 51.0% the following year.

      SWA said: “There are now around 10.3 million families who consider themselves poor, up from 9.9 million in 2011 and 8.9 million two years ago.

    “ Thus, in the first half of Aquino’s term, the number of poor families ballooned by 1.4 million. . . SWS survey report continues.

     The Philippine National Statistical Coordination Board reported that “the income gap between the rich and the poor was wider in the Philippines than in Indonesia and Thailand, indicating serious inequality in the distribution of the country’s economic gains” that Noynoy was crowing about. [3]

     Obviously, the economic gains that Noynoy announced in his SONA are only planned and designed for the rich. I do not doubt that Noynoy is aware of this flaw in his economic planning.

     But the bigger problem to think about is that if this blunder is not accidental, then it is intentional. The Filipino people, especially the poor, are unaware of what stabs them at the back. They feel the wound, and gee, how that hurts.


      Corruption is a dynastical legacy of Noynoy he cannot afford to get rid of, sad to say …


     Noynoy will speak of corruption as the number one enemy of the people anytime anywhere, especially when provoked by his political enemies branding him as a corrupt president.  I am not a thief,” Noynoy fumed mad in a rare TV prime time appearance, showing his rage when the pork barrel thieves publicly announced that he was one of them.

     In his public bravado to fight corruption, actually the truth is, he should first get rid of himself as the head of Political Dynasties that rob the people blind before he could stop corruption.  Is he prepared to do that? No, I don’t give a second thought that he is.

     Maybe this is possible in Japan where a disgraced political leader would perform hara-kiri, in the tradition of the honorable Samurai to cleanse the soul before entering the Gate of Heaven. I guess not in the Philippines whose political culture values life more than honor. Of course here I am not referring to Filipinos whose admirable cultural values are known to be impeccably strong and morally upright that the world envies because these are worthy of emulation not only locally but also globally.

     But rather I am referring to those morally mutated Philippine politicians engaged in the massive thievery of public fund as a way of life; politicians who are “trapos” or “maduming trapos” [rags or dirty rags] who were born to families of Political Dynasties in the past and present that rule the country not only for a decade or so but for centuries.

      Faced with this grim reality, the people are bedeviled to know why Noynoy cannot and will not get rid of corruption.  

    For example, the public noticed that in Noynoy’s SONA, nothing was mentioned about the multibillion-peso pork barrel “political heist” that scandalized the nation which a president who is not himself corrupt or a part of of the “robbery” is expected to address in his SONA.  This oblique omission mortified Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago who twitted Noynoy’s SONA as no better than a college student’s school paper that did not make the grade.

    Malacanang’s lame excuse was that the SONA shouldn’t include lengthy details, and that Noynoy has only a limited time to dwell on such important subject as the pork barrel corruption that black-eyed the nation in the eyes of the world.  Not even about in an hour long of Noynoy’s blah-blah in front of the TV cameras that the pork barrel scandal which shocked not only the nation but the world, had a chance of getting included.

    In other words, to get rid of corruption is like killing the Political Dynasties that Noynoy heads.  Noynoy knows this, and he cannot and will not do it although he would swear in public that he will, but actually in the back of his mind he will not. Like the imprisoned Valentinus of Rome, the Filipino people have no way out. Corruption will stay as part of their life.

     The lesson to learn in Valentine’s Day when we remember Valentinus’ fate in the hand of the Emperor is that this martyr did not change -- he continued to do what he loved to do knowing that it would lead to his execution. He persisted to be just a loving person that he was. For him, there was no way out.

      Similarly, the Filipino people continue to elect Political Dynasties to power in every presidential election cycle, giving a terrible president they elect like Noynoy a good reason to poke their nose and kick their butt.  With a bloodied nose and a hematoma in their swelling behind where the boot landed, the Filipinos are still smiling and apologetic even though the door had slammed on their face and a foot was caught in between causing such excruciating pain.

     Under this situation where Valentinus once was, there was no way out.

     In this dilemma, the only solution I see is the people or Noynoy has to change. If there is no change, the elimination of one of the parties or both in a head-on collision is inevitable.

     Against the world, Rome didn’t change, until the end of it. Against Rome Valentinus didn’t change either up to his execution. The confrontation went on to its final conclusion.  The result was, against the world, the terror that was once the mighty Roman Empire disappeared; against Rome, the brave and resilient Valentinus gets eliminated.

     In the Philippines, corruption prevails, and in politics the law of the jungle is the law of the land. Since there is no change, the end that I am talking about could be the end of Noynoy and the Political Dynasties he leads or the demise of the people in a bloody EDSA III revolution reminiscent of the Fall of Bastille in France in 1789. We could say that in every rule, there is always an exception.

     I think it is just a matter of a little more time for this end to come. For all we know it is already there. But just the same, how would this problem end is nobody’s concern at the moment.

    There is too much love around the corner and this feeling I have in Valentine’s Day is magical. I could hear the bell ringing with joy . . . much too much affection and sensation that when it touches you it is electrical.

     What I am trying to say is, if the end is just a matter of time, I couldn’t hear the clock ticking.   


 © Copyright Edwin A. Sumcad. Access PAR February 10, 2014.



Mind-Boggling Plunder Charges Yet To Come

Edwin A. Sumcad, PAR Columnist


     The greatest case of plunder and pillage of public funds yet to be filed against a criminally corrupt Philippine head of state and his accomplices would most likely occur when the second part of President Benigno Aquino III [Noynoy] regime expires in December 2016.

     In the case of former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, plunder charges were filed against her and cohorts right after her term of office expired. In the case of ex-Presidents Marcos and Estrada, charges of embezzlement, pilfering of public funds, theft and grand larceny [plunder and pillage] – sort of a hangman’s noose around their neck so to speak – were unleashed when the anger of millions of Filipinos exploded in Epifanio de los Santos Avenue, Metro Manila otherwise known by its acronym EDSA.

     It would be the biggest case of corruption ever filed against a Philippine president which would make the alleged Marcos plunder, Estrada’s looting of public fund and Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s pillage of the national treasury through kickbacks and other forms of thievery which reportedly international observers believed had sucked the blood of Filipinos dry to the bone thereby sending their country to Asia’s economic graveyard – look like droplets in the bucket!

    Historically, the size of Marcos’ globally published Philippine plunder is supposed to be one of the world’s worst lootings of public funds ever imagined, but if the claim recorded in several investigations and in the court trial that took place in Hawaii years back is true that what Marcos and his secret confidants had stashed abroad in Swiss banks was mainly the dollar-value of the Yamashita Gold that in World War II Marcos as a commanding officer and his soldiers had reportedly raided, sequestered and finally hidden just about towards the end of the Japanese occupation of the Philippines, then Marcos may be doubtfully perceived as the country’s greatest plunderer.  The greatest pillager of all time is yet to come – and the timeline for that is any day from now or at the end of 2016, whichever comes first.

    However, the end of Noynoy’s term in office as the timing of this yet most shocking turning point in Philippine history, may fast-forward once any of the following three events occurs -- depending on the health of the president who is now reeling under the tremendous pressure of political turbulence: [1] Impeachment . . . [2] Resignation or … [3] When resignation may be overtaken by an EDSA III cataclysmic happening of bloodshed which may be just around the corner.  

    Because government corruption creates a hidden rage among the governed, especially among the notorious underground elements [anti-government haters from both the extreme Left and Right spectrum of a troubled society], plotters from the dark side including the restive Military may create a Kennedy-like scenario to end the Aquino regime.

    When this fateful Dallas-like scenario – i.e., in the case of the fallen U.S. President Joseph F. Kennedy that was a turning point in U.S. history – intervenes in the course of unfolding events in the Philippines -- God forbids – then the event-determinants for the next super-plunder cases to come or to be filed against a corrupt head of state that I have just cited – this turning point in Philippines history that I have just underscored -- will just become moot and academic.

     But none of these three above-mentioned fast-tracking events would stop the filing of charges of plunder and pillage of public fund against a resigned president or a president who would survive the famous or infamous EDSA Revolution, simply called EDSA III, which could take place any day from now.

      Imagine the size of this plunder -- and the ensuing political apocalypse that would strike down Noynoy Aquino’s regime – the looting of the Philippine National Treasury is not only in multimillion but multibillion-peso heist through several years of trillions of Pesos in budgetary appropriations, a conjoined maneuvering of conniving high-ranking public officials in one of the most clever, shrewd and publicly-hidden executive-legislative conspiracies, sans a dictatorship government.

     With the iron-clad rule of Political Dynasties in the Philippines – under a government that is supposedly democratic created by former President Corazon C. Aquino’s bloody EDSA Revolution, not a dictatorship form of government that we know – this political gang of families in the Philippines that the Cojuanco-Aquino family heads and orchestrated by President Noynoy Cojuanco-Aquino, the plunder of the nation’s patrimony is [brace yourself] absolutely LEGALIZED. 

    Unfortunately, how this plunder is legalized, is hardly within the knowledge and understanding of the massive “bakya crowd” [sandal people] or the common tao that historically would march down EDSA demanding for a change of the system of governance, and in a painful reckoning would ultimately decide to change their damaging political belief system, as well as their harmful or self-destructive way of life.

     For example, the PDAF despoliation proposal [Priority Development Assistance Fund thievery notoriously known as the Pork Barrel scandal] had been originally blue-printed, recommended and submitted by Noynoy and his accomplices in the Executive Department, to their co-conspirator-politicians in Congress who then passed it into law as part of the General Appropriation Act [GAA]. 

     The conspiring politicians in Congress would then legislate provisions into that law to see to it that they get the appropriated money LEGALLY. Once the conniving politicians in Congress passed the year’s GAA [the “Pig Fat” is a chunk of it] and Noynoy attached his multi-million-dollar signature to the document, presto [!] the money Bill turns into LAW, and the stealing is legally complete.  

    This nascent modus operandi has never been used before during the hellish regimes of Marcos, Estrada and Gloria, the latter dubbed as the Filipina “Evita” Peron of Argentina in her halcyon days of glory. It is just that the hurting Filipino people wanted to see all of them hang in a nearby tree like what Judas did to himself.  In conscience, Judas has REMORSE for his guilt of betrayal that was why he hanged himself. These guys I am talking about have neither conscience nor remorse at all. That’s why the people won’t see them hang themselves in a nearby tree.

      In the idiolect lingo or slang language spoken by the dark characters of the underworld as in New York’s Godfather protection racketeering family of gangsters or of Chicago’s Mafia during the post-depression era, and also in the late 60s and early 70s, the symbiotic connection of crooks from the Executive and Legislative branches of the Aquino government may be described as a “scratch my back and I scratch yours” kind of relationship specifically between a devious president coming from the ruling Political Dynasty and those kinked politicians in the Philippine Congress . . . it is their legalized coded expression of milking the people dry in one of the world’s corrupt and chronically corrupted societies ever recorded in recent time.

       This underworld expression of covert relationship between morally twisted Executive-Legislative officials in milking the people dry is also succinctly expressed in President Benigno Aquino III’s Disbursement Acceleration Program [DAP] which was part of Noynoy’s budgetary proposal sent to Congress for funding approval.  The huge amount involved was lately recorded at more than P146 billions, earmarked for any infrastructure project Noynoy Aquino and his advisers could think of out of their hat. What seems to be the clandestine purpose behind this massive appropriation of public fund was to inject tons of money into the financial system in order to pump-prime the supposedly sagging economy – a Keynesian theory doomed to fail in a corrupt society.

       So is President Benigno Aquino III’s infamous Conditional Cash Transfer [CCT] fund [some P56 billion or so], another pork-barrel-like disbursement fund program of the president . . . a soon-to-be vanishing expenditures solely at the president’s discretion.  It was supposed to eradicate chronic poverty in the urban and rural centers, similar to U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s welfare plan benefiting the economically disadvantaged in the United States. Where the money went, people gasped asking questions when in fact “in the first half of Aquino’s term, the number of poor families ballooned by 1.4 million . . .” the Social Weather Station survey reported. The spiraling of poverty growth-rate upward from then on to the present is in the publicly released SWS reports, which turned out to be quite tiring for anybody to read anymore.

      The “Pig Fat” largesse [PDAP] was supposed to fund “development projects” at the discretion of the thieving Congresspersons and Senators who shared the funding allocations.  Some P10 billions of PDAP had vanished in thin air, thanks to Janet Napoles, the geek-crook-street-mom that made it easier for unscrupulous politicians to steal PDAF and run away with a truckload of the people’s money.

     Postscript to this unprecedented anomaly is that the bigger part of the loot or the rest of the stolen amount may yet surface if further investigations are continued and not stopped. But the investigation is winding down as it stepped into the next level. Nationwide attention is now focused on determining the nature of the wrongdoing and for the preparation of the coming court trial of the culprits, so much so that the gargantuan size of the amount of pinching and pocketing of the stolen money seemed to have become irrelevant, otherwise the total amount pocketed when determined, only becomes either a mitigating or aggravating circumstance in the imposition of penalties.

     As of this writing, several Senators and “Tongressmen” led by former Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile and their shady entourage who robbed the people blind had been reportedly caught in the dragnet of conspirators turning state-witnesses against their masterminds.  

    And like a playing broken record, the show goes on.  No crook yet as diabolic as those who are about to face charges in court, had ever been sent to jail in this wickedly debauched and/or chronically corrupted society ruled and controlled by Political Dynasties.

     In this case of public fund snatchers, presumed innocent until proven guilty are Enrile and cohorts who are tested legal combatants, a special breed of Aquino’s cadre of purloining or filching Political Dynasties.

    In the meantime, as usual, the face of the country is disfigured as the poorest of the poor population agonized in abject poverty; its visage and countenance appears unclean and unsightly in the eyes of the world as the Media, like sharks in a feeding frenzy, breathes foul air in public highlighting the scandal. Dirt is flying and scattering all around. 

    This ugliness of the country’s image was caught in radio and television prime time in a series of broadcast and live public interviews, and written by poison pens in angry columns and published in flashing headlines of the print media that for a while seemed unstoppable.

     PDAF, a.k.a pork barrel or “Pig Fat” -- the LAW that legalized the plunder of public funds by greedy politicians -- has just recently been declared UNCONSTITUTIONAL by the Philippine Supreme Court. Bad publicity of this judicial declaration also went high wire. 

     The congressional infamy of the presidential-legislative conspiracy between the president and cohorts in Congress to steal the people’s money was first to go accompanied by angry public demonstrations, like what had transpired in France, in a mini-series scenery, prior to the Fall of Bastille in 1789.  This sign of the forthcoming apocalyptic upheaval is horrifyingly ominous to ignore.

    Justices of the Philippine Supreme Court are now tackling the arguments to also declare DAP unconstitutional since the PDAF that was just struck down by the highest court of the land, was an adjunct or part of DAP. This so-called anti-poverty program is reportedly Noynoy’s and cohorts’ “fattest” or heavyweight pork barrel whose gruesome-galore in terms of hideousness and repugnance defy description in normal or ordinary media reporting. 

    The other kind of presidential pork barrel -- the spooky Conditional Cash Transfer [CCT] – is a multibillion-peso unaudited presidential disbursement of funds out of government savings supposedly for the poor. This is also being scrutinized by the General Auditing Office known as GAO, the country’s independent, constitutionally-created body otherwise also known as the fiscal and financial watchdog of government transactions involving public funds.

    When all is said and done and the enormous sum of stolen money is totaled, the mind-blowing amount of funds looted would not have any comparison yet as to how pervasive the plunder and pillage is, in modern history.

    There is a saying that if you make your bed you must lay in it. Noynoy, the president, had made his own bed so he must now lay in it with the Sword of Damocles hanging in the ceiling pointing down to his head-pillow.

     Supporters and Malacanang sycophants are hoping that in a manner of speaking, the string holding the hanging Sword of Damocles won’t snap and Noynoy will survive his term of office.

    The Cojuanco-Aquino political dynasty and their brownnosers are now drumbeating that the next candidate for president or vice president is Kris Aquino, Noynoy’s sister, or any member of the rich Cojuanco-Aquino family.  Archbishop emeritus Oscar Cruz has endorsed Kris at least as the 2016 candidate for VP.

    Presidents Corazon Cojuanco-Aquino and Gloria Macapagal Arroyo -- the latter facing the gallows for possible hanging because of the current charges of plunder filed against her – have been “sent by God”, according to Catholic political fanatics, a religious clique that pokes its nose in politics.

    Some of the Senators and Congressperson involved in the theft of public funds – all members of existing ruling Political Dynasties – had signified their intention to become the next President of the Philippines.

    Manny Paquiao, the boxer, and Kris Aquino, the entertainer, and the “trapos” of Congress who have been endorsed or had publicly declared to become candidates for president in 2016, reflect the quality of national leadership that the people will elect again to lead their country to eternal damnation.

    And for the sake of the morally stricken Filipino nation that needs to be spiritually exorcised from hell, my regret is we can do nothing more except pray for the people’s deliverance on Judgment Day. #


© Copyright Edwin A. Sumcad.  Access March 3, 2014.