By now, it’s obvious to all that the impeachment complaint filed by Pulido is a sham, intended only to immunize GMA for a year from a more legitimate complaint.
Rep. Crispin Beltran and two other congressmen were offered bribes of up to P2.0M by Kampi Deputy Secretary General Francis Ver just to endorse the complaint. Rep. Cuenca of Cebu and a few other congressmen under cover of anonymity admits having received P200 to P500T after a meeting of pro-admin solons in Malacanang where GMA gave the marching orders in connection with the impeachment, “Do the right thing.” In a separate meeting at the Palace on the same day, governors and mayors were given brown envelopes containing similar amounts.
At first, palace officials denied the payoffs ever happened. But after Fr. Ed Panlilio – Governor of Pampanga, showed to media the envelope and the crisp bills of cash, they feigned ignorance, wondering like the rest of us whodunit. Amazing.
Amidst these brazen and unconscionable acts of corruption and outright lies, we see no outrage – not even a whimper, from people or organized groups.
I am no longer surprised. Jarius Bondoc wrote several articles on the anomalous ZTE deal as early as March. But nobody paid attention. It was only after he exposed the Abalos sexcapades that people took heed. Corruption alone, even on a grand scale, no longer bothers us. It needs a bit of sex, or perhaps murder, to scandalize people.
Our national conscience has been desensitized irreparably and we have lost the capacity for outrage. We have become an indifferent, if not a cynical people. And the few who are incensed by the unfolding events feel helpless, not knowing how or where to vent their anger.
Is there hope? It really depends on each one of us. By now, I hope, we must have realized that the impunity we see today is a direct consequence of our apathy and inaction in the past. If we sit idly by and do nothing, it will only get worse.
First, let’s take stock of how we view things from a moral standpoint, before we even think of what we can and should do. I invite you to take the Morality Quotient Test (MQ test) below.
What is your reaction in each of the situation described below? (Choose one that approximates your attitude)
1. Fr. Ed Panlilio accepts the P500,000 given out after a meeting with GMA by mayors and governors at Malacanang. He said the money did not come from jueteng or from any illegal source, so he decided to accept it. He intends to use it for projects that will benefit his constituents. How do you feel about this?
a. It was naïve of him to accept it. Understandable. He is, after all, a rookie politician. But now that he knows more about the circumstances of the payoff, he should just return the money.
b. I agree with Fr. Ed. Nothing wrong with using “clean” money to help the poor folks of Pampanga.
c. Father Ed, welcome to the world of politics. You should get used to this kind of wheeling and dealing.
d. He should not have received it in the first place. But since he did, then he should shut up. He’s only giving the opposition fodder for their destabilization efforts.
2. Rep. Cuenca admits in a radio interview that he received a P200T “Christmas gift” after the Malacanang meeting. Other congressmen present in the meeting denied there were “gifts” given out. Cuenca later recants and says it was just a joke. How could he receive a “Christmas gift” when it’s not yet Christmas, he argues. Cong. Defensor says, even if it were true, there’s nothing wrong with it. And Sec. Lito Atienza says, that it’s really standard practice for the President to give her allies gifts of up to P200K after such meetings. It was so in the 9 years that he was mayor. How do you feel about this?
a. I am outraged not only by the brazenness of the payoff and how our elected officials are trivializing it, but also by the blatant lying. The mere fact that this happened in Malacanang should compel the President to resign.
b. This should be investigated by the proper agencies (PAGC or Ombudsman or even the Senate) to determine culpability, punish the guilty, and clear the names of Congressmen who did not receive any amount.
c. What else is new? As Atienza says, this has been going on for the longest time. No matter who the president is, this practice will continue.
d. Elected and appointed officials should be more circumspect in their public pronouncements. Reckless statements like these are tainting our image and might scare investors away.
3. Joey de Venecia vividly describes how the First Gentleman points a menacing finger to his face asking him to “Back Off!” The First Gentleman vehemently denies it and says he could not possibly have done it since he didn’t know Joey personally. But he did advice Joey that he could be violating the law which prohibits relatives of the Speaker from entering into a transaction with government. Obviously, one or both of them are lying. What’s your take?
a. I believe Joey. I can’t imagine him having the audacity to invent such a fantastic story. The Senate should compel, if necessary, the First Gentleman to explain his side.
b. It’s really Joey’s word against the First Gentleman’s. Let the investigation take its full course and let the people decide for themselves.
c. It doesn’t really matter who’s lying. They probably both are. As some senators have said, it’s just a quarrel for kickbacks.
d. It’s probably part of a PR demolition job against FG to discredit and embarrass the GMA government.
4. Palace officials and pro-admin senators are saying that the Senate ZTE hearings should now be terminated, having been rendered moot by the resignation of Comelec Chairman Abalos. The Senate should instead focus on legislating priority bills to alleviate the condition of our people. Besides, they argue, Sec. Neri has already said everything he is willing to reveal and will only invoke executive privilege if pressed by the Senators. What do you think?
a. The hearings should continue to ferret out the truth and determine culpability of all officials involved, possibly including GMA. The Senate should challenge executive privilege at the Supreme Court if Neri invokes it. As for Abalos, a criminal case should be filed against him.
b. The Senate should continue the hearings. However, if there are no new witnesses or information, then they should stop and instead legislate laws as they were mandated to do.
c. Nothing good ever comes out of Senate investigations. Senators, especially those with presidential ambitions, are just showboating.
d. The hearings should stop. People are not interested in scandals. They’re more interested in improving the economy. This will give them jobs and food on the table. Senators should instead work double time to pass bills that will improve the economy.
5. PERC – a risk consultancy firm, released its report on corruption among Asian countries. The Philippines garnered the highest index (8.6 on a scale of 10) making it the most corrupt country in Asia. Opposition groups cited this in their information campaign. Malacanang countered with a media blitz saying that PERC never said the Philippines is the most corrupt, and that this was merely the perception of company executives surveyed. It accused the opposition groups of distorting the survey for their own political ends, and that this has set back the economic gains that the administration has worked so hard to achieve. What’s your take?
a. The fact remains that the Philippines is now the most corrupt Asian country. All corruption reports, including those prepared by Transparency International, are based on perceptions. Rather than worry about tainting our image, we should instead work on reducing the incidents and magnitude of corruption. And it should start from the very top.
b. Even if it’s true that we have become the most corrupt, harping on it does not help much. We should instead work together to improve the situation.
c. What’s all the fuss? We don’t need a foreign agency to tell us what we already know.
d. Let’s not nitpick on the issue of corruption. Other countries as corrupt, if not more, than us are prosperous. Let’s focus on improving our economy.
How to score: add 20 points for every (a) answer, 15 points for every (b) answer, 10 points for every (c) answer and 5 points for every (d) answer.
Interpreting your total score:
THE IDEALIST. If you scored a perfect 100, you’re a hopeless idealist. To a lot of people, you’re a self-righteous moralist, out of touch with realpolitik, and uncompromising. While it seems you’re on the extreme, you may just be the right person to countervail what the CBCP now sees as the moral bankruptcy of our leaders. You must be fuming mad by now with the unraveling of one scandal after the other.
THE CONSCIENTIOUS. If you scored between 90 to 95, you have a fairly decent sense of right and wrong, perhaps tempered only by a healthy fear of instability. With the brazenness and impunity you see today, you are probably ready to act on the dictates of your conscience.
THE PRAGMATIC. If you scored between 65 to 85, you consider yourself a well-balanced person, looking at the big picture rather than just the moral dimension of an issue. When scandals first hounded GMA, you’re probably one of those who kept asking, “But who will replace her?” With the magnitude of bribery you now see, you’re probably close to saying, “I don’t care who replaces her. Just get her out!”
THE CYNIC. If you scored between 30 to 60, you are probably snickering and saying, “I told you so.” You are unfazed by current events, and are determined to continue doing what you do best – nothing. Well… you deserve the country we have today.
THE RUTHLESS If you scored between 20 to 25, you have a single-minded tunnel vision towards economic prosperity. Your philosophy in life could be – “Screw morality. You can’t eat morality. It’s the economy, stupid!” To you, the end justifies the means. I can only say one thing. God unleashed His wrath when His people sacrificed at the altar of Baal. I believe God has unleashed His wrath upon our nation because people like you have likewise been idolatrous – worshipping at the altar of economic progress.
What can we do?
For starters, you can forward this email to others. Don’t forget to mention your score and how you feel about the current issues.
Secondly, you can join us. The Black and White Movement is organizing a forum this coming Monday morning, October 22 entitled, “Civil Society Consultation – Ano ang Tamang Tugon kung Ginagago na ang Mamayan?” Email me (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you want to come so I can send you an invitation. Seats are limited so I can only send out so many invitations. Or if you can’t attend, then just email me your suggested action which I can present at the forum.
Of course, if you’re the cynic or ruthless type, there’s always the “delete” key to deal with this distraction. You might as well throw your TV set out and cancel your newspaper subscription. These issues will simply not go away for days and weeks to come.
God bless and God save our country.