I Cry For My Pitiful CountryNothing Will Happen By Simeon G. Silverio, Jr.Publisher & EditorAsian Journal San DiegoThe Original and First Asian Journal in America First in a series of articles
It is funny to read the jokes on the Napoles Pork Barrel scam in the Philippines posted on Facebook. There was a photoshopped picture of Janet Lim Napoles, the woman at the center of the controversy. A pigs snout replaced her nose, labeling her as the queen of pork barrel scam. Then there was a photo showing former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, impeached Supreme Court Justice Renato Corona, and Napoles seated in wheelchairs and racing each other. The three pretended to be sick when they were in trouble.
Another funny image was that of Napoles mugshot when she was booked at the police station. She was holding a board that read: Bakit iyong mga kasabwat ko, hindi ninyo hinuhuli (How come you did not arrest my accomplices?).
Then there were the photos of Senators Juan Ponce Enrile, Bong Revilla, Jinggoy Estrada, Bongbong Marcos and Gregorio Honasan, together with General Angelo Reyes, who had committed suicide when dragged into an anomaly. The message in the photo said: Magbigti na rin kayo kagaya ni Angelo Reyes dahil mga bistado na kayo. Nakakahiya kayo. Ninanakaw ninyo ang kaban ng bayan (You should also commit suicide like Angelo Reyes because you are already exposed. What you did is shameful because you stole from the national treasury)!
The Filipinos are unique. You can be sure they will have their fun, no matter what. They can still make jokes in the midst of a big problem. One can say they just laugh their lifes troubles away.
Although I enjoyed reading all the humorous postings, I felt a pain in my chest. I felt like crying. Even though I knew millions of Filipinos were furious upon learning of their money being brazenly stolen, even though Facebook was inundated with hateful messages against the suspects, even though a Million People March was held at the Luneta to express their anger. I knew it would amount to nothing. Based on past experiences, I was sure her accomplices, especially those in the government, would not be jailed. They would be able to commit the same crimes all over again. After just a few months, happy days are here again for the politicians and criminals who shamelessly wallow in luxury at the expense of the peoples misery. There would be no punishments. The misery of the Filipino people would continue forever. Once I wondered if I would still be alive when the time came that the Philippine government was no longer corrupt. Will the Filipino peoples misery end during my lifetime? Now I know. Not in my lifetime. Not in the lifetime of the grandchildren of the grandchildren of the grandchildren of my grandchildren. Never ever!
Do you remember the anomalies exposed before? The Amari land deal scam? The Centennial project at Clark Airbase? The North Rail deal? What happened to them? Nothing! At the Centennial project at Clark, former Senator Salvador Doy Laurel was involved since he was the chairman of the project. Fidel Ramos was the president at that time. Doy died before the investigation was culminated, but many people believed he was guilty. The already muddied name of the Laurels was further tainted. Ramos came out unscathed, although until now the foul smell of the project is still discussed . One time, during one of my visits to the Philippines, I passed by Diosdado Macapagal Avenue at the reclamation area on Roxas Blvd. in Manila. The taxi driver was boasting it was the most expensive road in the world. The authorities received many kickbacks during its construction, hence the skyrocketing costs. Yet President Ramos, who was involved in the project, retired safely.
I am reminded of the joke of my old friend, Joe Cabrera, regarding the reclamation project in that area. One time, there was a tourist bus full of tourists cruising the place. One of the tourists, a German, asked the Filipino tourist guide, How long did you build that Cultural Center? The Filipino tourist guide replied: One year. In our country, the German tourist quipped, we could build that in ten months. Then he saw the Philcite building. He asked, How long did you build that Philcite complex? The Filipino tourist guide answered, Six months. The German tourists boasted, In our country, we could build that in three months! By then the tourist guide was already annoyed. Napipikon na siya. Finally, the German tourist saw the Film Center. How long did you build that Film Center? The Filipino tourist guide replied, I dont know. How come you dont know? Youre the tourist guide in this area, youre supposed to know that information. The Filipino tourist guide answered, How would I know when it was not yet there yesterday?
Now the Filipino tourist guide would not need to lie. He could beat the German tourist at his game. If asked how expensive the Diosdado Macapagal Avenue was, he could be assured its price would never be surpassed by any street in Germany. Kakahiya tayo (We are shameful)!
Lets return to the other anomalies in the Philippines that ended up with no convictions. Former Senator Ernesto Maceda, who as a young councilor was described by the late Manila Mayor Arsenio Lacson as so young, so corrupt, conducted many hearings in the Senate. He held numerous exposes, many of them sensational. It was as if he did nothing but conduct Senate hearings and expose anomalies. The people enjoyed reading about them. But like many of his exposes, nothing happened. No one was convicted of any crime or violation. Many said that sometimes hearings like these were staged to blackmail the people exposed. They would abruptly end with no conviction once the targeted suspects paid the senators off.
The congressional hearings were an effective campaign tool for politicians. They were supposed to be conducted as an aid to legislation to develop better laws. Well, tell that to the marines! We were not born yesterday. It is a good campaign tool at no expense to the candidate. Thats about all they were good for.
Do you remember the senate hearings on the sex tapes of Hayden Kho and Katrina Halili? It was just a minor case, yet heavily sensationalized. It should have just been a matter relegated to the barangay level, something read in movie magazines or the tabloids. But the hearings were conducted in the august halls of the Senate, complete with all the lurid details to the delight of millions of viewers. What was its connection to legislation? To the duties of the Senate? Those who conducted the hearings were Bong Revilla and Jinggoy Estrada, both actors-turned- senators. When they ran for re-election that year, they topped the polls. They did not have to campaign hard, for their exposures during the hearing put them in the minds of the voters. The hearings were effective campaign tools. The other candidates who were more experienced, more educated, and had more integrity lost due to a lack of campaign funds. Frankly, the real losers were not them but rather the Filipino people who missed a golden opportunity to elect candidates who were more experienced, more educated, and had more integrity.
The same thing happened to Peter Alan Cayetano. An unknown congressman from Taguig, he conducted hearings against Mike Arroyo, the husband of then president Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. Mike Arroyo is person people like to hate. He had a bad reputation, alright, but the charges hurled against him by Cayetano – that he had secret bank deposits in Europe – seemed to have been based on false information. This was why Mike dared him to identify the bank accounts. But it did not matter to the voters. Because of his exposure during the hearings, the previously unknown congressman from Taguig was elected to the Senate that year.
I mentioned the movie stars who turned politicians. During the 1950s, the first movie star to become senator was Rogelio Dela Rosa. He was very popular at first. He even ran for president only to withdraw and endorse his brother-in-law, Diosdado Macapagal, at the last minute. But in the end, he was discredited when named as one of those who received bribes from discredited American industrialist Harry Stonehill. This man had been hastily deported before implicating other officials in power at that time. Or at least that was the rumor.
When the movie star Ramon Revilla won a seat in the Senate, he was given a tour of the building during his first day. Upon seeing the huge canteen, he was said to be very much impressed: Aba, puwedeng magpabinyag dito, ah (This is a good place to have a baptismal party). Haydee Yorac, the late human rights lawyer, allegedly said, Thats what the Filipino people get for electing movie stars like him to the Senate. The Filipino people and the senator indeed deserve each other! Maybe the reason why Revilla was interested in a baptismal party was because he had so many children sired out of wedlock. Having many mistresses evidently does not harm a candidates image to Filipino voters.
Desposed President Joseph Estrada had many children with his mistresses. One sometimes wonders where he got the money to support all of them, especially since they live in luxury. One studied in London, one mistress became a mayor, and her out-of-wedlock son with Estrada even became a senator. But thats okay with the voters despite priding ourselves as having the only Catholic country in Asia. It seems we have no qualms electing philanderers like him. In the United States, such a scenario is unimaginable, certainly unlikely. Only President Bill Clinton was able to get away with it, and Im sure the strong economy of the 1990s played a factor. But our mayor here in San Diego was forced to resign three weeks ago due to numerous sexual harassment charges hurled against him.
Imagine this. We had a convicted child rapist, who, while serving out his term in prison, got re-elected repeatedly. A candidate won a seat in the senate while in prison. A congressman was caught smuggling drugs in Hong Kong. He was convicted, imprisoned, and won back his seat his brother had temporarily warmed up for him during his absence. An army officer staged a coup that failed, was imprisoned, and was then elected as senator. Another was accused of murder, went into hiding for months, and after a change of administration came out triumphantly. All charges were dismissed!
I can only cry for my pitiful country. – AJ
(To be continued)
To check out Sim Silverios book, copy paste link below in search bar and press enter: http://www.amazon.com/gp/search/ref=sr_adv_b/?search-alias=stripbooks&unfiltered=1&field-keywords&field-author=simeon+silverio&field-title&field-isbn&field-publisher&node&field-p_n_condition-type&field-feature_browse-bin&field-subject&field-language&field-dateop=During&field-datemod&field-dateyear&sort=relevanceexprank&Adv-Srch-Books-Submit.x=27&Adv-Srch-Books-Submit.y=12