Bottled scorpionsBy Juan L. Mercado
Philippine Daily Inquirer
“People never lie so much as after a hunt, during a war—or before an election.” Otto von Bismarck’s adage unreels with a vengeance in the homestretch of the May 13 elections.
How many of 52,014,648 voters will turn up on Monday? They’re to fill 18,022 posts: 12 in the Senate and 229 in the House. In 80 provinces, 143 cities and 1,491 towns, all elective posts are up for grabs, plus slots for party-list representatives.
Credit the year-round listing by the Commission on Elections for this unprecedented number. The Comelec also exorcised “ghosts.” In the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, almost a quarter of a million names (236,489, to be precise) were deleted. “Most were either double registrants or were too young to vote.” The Comelec also scrapped 238,557 absentee overseas voters. Most failed—or didn’t bother—to vote in the last two elections.
An overload of political pap and “dirty tricks” swamps voters. Posters are plastered end to end on every wall. Some peddle candidates even their mothers wouldn’t vote for. The campaign jingles deafen. Handouts against “Team Patay” barge even into private space to pray.
“Scorpions-in-the-bottle” brawls mar both local and national campaigns.
In Cebu City, Rep. Tomas Osmeña uncorked a confidential psychiatrist’s report, written for the family court, on the marriage annulment proceedings lodged against rival Mayor Mike Rama. “A new low,” snapped Sun Star columnist Bong Wenceslao.
Wait. There’s a “plot” to loft a bogus report on his bladder cancer, Osmeña said. To preempt foes, he released his 2012 Anderson Cancer Center report. No “metastasis” (spread) since operation cum chemotherapy for stage 3 bladder cancer four years back, it states. Five years is the medical benchmark where recurrence is unlikely.
Sen. Loren Legara twists in the wind from a charge that for over four years she didn’t declare in her statement of assets, liabilities and net worth a posh 77 Park Avenue condo in New York. She plastered the gap before the Senate convened to try the impeached Chief Justice Renato Corona.
“Black propaganda,” snapped Legarda. Without naming Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano, she fumed that a fellow candidate had orchestrated this “smear.” The $700,000 condo purchase, paid in cash, was reflected in the SALNs she filed in June 2007 and thereafter, she said.
Did you file two SALNs in 2011? blogger Raissa Robles asked. Legarda displayed Thursday a SALN that pegs “Real Property-USA” purchase at P28.7 million. However, another SALN was filed with the Senate Secretary in July. This asserts real property equity at P7.1 million. Which is which? Robles persisted.
To tamp down “scorpions-in-the-bottle” brawls, President Aquino cancelled a Tacloban sortie. The administration team is “not bound by any issue,” analyst Ramon Casiple noted. “Negotiations are between families” and presidential ambitions for 2016 clash amidst graft issues.
Corruption induces “sclerosis (hardening) of the heart,” says the paper “Reflections on Corruption.” Sleaze isn’t one singular act. Rather, it is “a state of being, a culture. An individual or society can get accustomed to it without realizing it.”
(Roughly 13 percent of the budget is drained by graft each year, the United Nations Development Programme estimates. Corruption taints Congress, customs, courts down to the traffic cops who pull over motorists.)
The corrupt don’t notice the stench. “It’s like bad breath. Rarely [does] the person with bad breath realize it. Others notice and they have to point it out…. But built-up resistance is enormous.”
(Early in the “New Society,” Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos signed secret Credit Suisse bank accounts as William Saunders and Jane Ryan. In 2012, Ilocos Norte Gov. Imee Marcos is revealed as keeping secret bank accounts in the Virgin Islands. Come May 13, many Ilocano voters will turn a blind eye.)
“The corrupt don’t feel they’ve sinned. They have prevailed, [so] they discredit, attack or eliminate anyone who tries to criticize, question or contradict them.”
(Inflicting mayhem on those who don’t pay for permits to campaign is justified, say communist rebels. Candidate Juan “Jack” Ponce Enrile Jr. didn’t bother to attend hearings on charges he gunned down the son of a former Philippine Navy chief in 1975, US diplomatic cables noted.)
“Priests and religious are not immune to corruption. Corruptio optimi, pessima (The corruption of the best is the worst of all). In confession, they ask forgiveness for other sins, but never for corruption… The subtle process of corruption, in a religious man or woman, produces paganism in ecclesiastical clothing…”
(The Iglesia ni Cristo failed to stop President Aquino from firing INC church elder and National Bureau of Investigation Director Magtanggol Gatdula for extortion. Butuan Bishop Juan de Dios Pueblos got scorched for his March 2009 request that President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo donate a 4×4 vehicle “which I can use to reach the far-flung areas of Caraga.”)
“Reflections” were first published in 2005, following a scandal where local authorities tried to whitewash the death of a teenage girl because the murderers’ fathers were linked to local politicians and the governor.
“The danger of personal and social collapse nests inside corruption.” Like scorpions in a bottle? Graft “has become so widespread that people began to almost expect it as a normal part of life,” wrote the author Jorge Bergoglio.
Jorge who? Bergoglio is the former cardinal from Argentina. Today, the world calls him simply Pope Francis.
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