“I knew it!” Angeles e-mails after reading “‘Law of the stomach’ as tradition” (Inquirer, 1/19/13). “My late mother once said, some 30 years ago: All politicians are one and the same in the barbeque screwer of Judas Iscariot. How right she was.”
This Viewpoint column discussed the P1.6-million “Christmas gifts” Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile doled to 18 senators. Hot-under-the-collar letters from readers cascaded in. Former Sen. Rene Saguisag led the assault on “fraud calcified into tradition.” Excerpts:
“Rizal wrote about the reign of greed. Are we seeing Part II in ‘a social vice that has become incurable’? I wonder when it began? Not in our (1987-1992) time. Sen. Jovito Salonga served Sunflower biscuits for merienda. And in my huge pilot-litigator’s bag was my baon.
“What gives Juan Ponce Enrile the right to give additional compensation without expiry? Delicadeza? Would the few who got less have complained if JPE gave all senators equally such arguably unconstitutional and unethical additional compensation?
“As Senate ethics panel chief, I’d raise questions about grant(s) whose constitutional and ethical basis was absent or shaky. (Former) staff would say ‘sorry, wrong number’ on getting irate calls, from colleagues, on what they thought of me and my ancestors. Oh, for the days of Uncle Kuripot Jovy and Prez Cory-Pot. (Then) we did not treat public money as our own, but as trust fund for the people.”
“One day, (our legislators) will write law on money,” Noel predicts. “Then we can keep the change.”
“Is this where (our) taxes go?” asks FPC. “I want to go back being an Overseas Foreign Worker. It’s tax free. Sad, sad, sad.” And Sievert, 81, adds: “Its more fun to be a senator.”
“Now we know. The Senate scrimps year round, so members could splurge at year’s end. (Next) they’ll do the reverse,” Firmelilia_12LAF predicts. “Splurge the year round and, come year-end, pillage Maintenance & Other Expenses budgets. High-end thievery!”
Calcification takes a long time, says RIGGS1220. “Massive corruption here is ingrained… and makes me vomit thinking about politicians who took part in this ‘tradition.”’
“That’s the same tradition the military called pabaon,” Fz20 weighs in. “Same style, same banana. Pare-pareho kayong bulok . You misuse legal (devices) to steal from the people.”
Divictes says: “No wonder we can’t stamp out corruption. We’ve absorbed it traditionally and adopted it legally.
“‘Ley del estomago’ or ‘Law of the Stomach,’ in Tagalog, would read: Palakasan (sila) ng sikmura. A YouTube clip shows a python swallowing an alligator whole. How did its system digest the hard-skinned creature? Would it stretch a point if one compares the ‘stomachs’ of Enrile, Edgardo Angara, and other senators with the digestive apparatus of the snake in the video?”
“No! Certainly not!” responds Cogito728sum. “Stretch it further by saying that the python rests until the swallowed prey is totally digested. In the case of your comparables, they keep going, and going, and going.” “Indeed, [t]he stomach has reasons that reason cannot know,” adds Mad As Hamlet. “But my guess is worms, worms, and more worms.”
“So there you have it folks,” Marcy Pulilan
e-mails. “Angara just explained that senators are traditionally thieves and kickback-money pocketers. It is tradition for senators to steal money from the scrimping they do before year-end, so that they can pocket more. The more they can save, the more they can give themselves. No one believes ethics hearings anymore when those hearing it are culprits themselves.”
“I used to be a big fan of Ed Angara because of his robust, sensible views,” Pert Cabatana confesses. “But with this MOOE-fed ‘time-honored’ tradition of gift-giving, plus the Aurora Apeco fiasco, I scratched Angara permanently from my list of ‘presidentiables.’ He turns out to be no better than Enrile in legalistic callousness and ethical insensitivity.”
“It intrigues me no end why Angara joined the fray on P1.6-million Christmas gifts,” adds Kapayapaan_1900. “It is no secret he and the Senate President are fraternity brothers in an exclusive law school and both cofounded Accra. Both knew each other well ‘pati likaw ng bituka.’ Was he forced to save the skin of his fraternal brother or to trivialize Sen. Miriam Santiago’s allegations and maximize his son’s election chances?”
“The rise of Cory Aquino restored the system controlled by the ‘oligarchic compradors’ (San Juan) in a solid, visible ‘national oligarchy,’ created by Americans (Anderson),” writes Where I Stand. “Marcos (parceled) this powerbase to his cronies. Cory Aquino didn’t institutionalize reform… to ensure the gains of People Power. This led to resurgence of the Marcos elites. Political patronage in the form of kaklase, kaibigan at kabarilan is a dominant feature in the Aquino II administration. Perhaps the Americans were correct in looking at the Filipino masses as ‘ignorant, credulous and childlike.’”
“Why doesn’t the Commission on Audit require lawmakers to produce receipts?” asked ra6Gpeche. “Proper receipts verify legitimacy of transactions. That way, we knowingly tempt these legislators to be corrupt.”
“Someone please tell me how 23 senators, no more intelligent than most of us, can abuse us 95 million Filipinos repeatedly?” Moonworshipper wonders. “Is there a way to end the lives of these politicians without killing them?” “Bravo,” cheers AnitAko.
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