There’s the Rub



The good news is that, as the peasant groups enthused last week, this was the “strongest statement” yet made by the courts against Danding Cojuangco. This was the Supreme Court ruling with finality that Cojuangco’s shares in the United Coconut Planters Bank in fact belonged to the coconut farmers.

“The ruling did not only strengthen the small coconut farmers’ legitimate claim over the 72.2 percent shares in UCPB but reaffirmed the historical truth that (Cojuangco) plundered the coco levy funds,” said Willy Marbella, deputy secretary general of  Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas.

The victory though was a much qualified one. As a former UCPB director pointed out, the value of the bank’s shares that the Supreme Court awarded to the coconut farmers was a mere “pittance” compared to the 20-percent sequestered shares of San Miguel that the same Court awarded to Cojuangco last year. What the right hand withholdeth, the left hand giveth—except that the left hand giveth more.

Just as well, before the peasant groups bring out the champagne, or the lambanog, made from coconut instead of sasa of course, they might do well to remember that the Supreme Court has a weird definition of “finality.” It’s a finality that is never final. As the flight attendants know only too well: After the Court ruled with finality to award the Flight Attendants’ and Stewards’ Association of the Philippines (Fasap) back its members benefits, it reopened the case once more, leaving Fasap’s more senior members in a lurch. The same thing could happen to the coconut farmers.

The bad news is everything else.

At the very least, the case is a reminder of how Ferdinand Marcos, his family and his cronies got away with murder. Literally so in Marcos’ case, but not much better for being metaphorically so in his cronies’ case. Those cronies included Cojuangco, Juan Ponce Enrile and, as several blogs have pointed out, Fidel Ramos as well. He was very much a pillar of martial law, however he threw in his lot with the Reformed the Armed Forces Movement (RAM) at the last minute, being head of the dreaded Philippine Constabulary for much of that time.

Unlike Argentina and South Africa, after martial law we never had a Truth Commission, the one thing that would have allowed us to move on. Again, as Nobel Peace Prize winner Archbishop Desmond Tutu, head of the South African Truth Commission, said, before forgiveness, there is the admission; before reconciliation, there is restitution. Neither the Marcoses nor their cronies admitted their sins, neither the Marcoses nor their cronies made restitution. What they did was merely to part with part of their ill-gotten wealth, or stolen fortune, or loot. That is not restitution, that is absolution. That is not pain, that is gain.

The result of this was to guarantee that crime does pay, and pay big. It’s not merely that the fortunes allowed to remain in the hands of the cronies—the succeeding governments were content to strike deals with them rather than jail them and confiscate their properties—represent wealth taken away from the people. Though that is a monumental iniquity in itself: Can you imagine, the food, medicine, classrooms all that loot can buy? Can you imagine the extent to which poverty can be pushed back by seizing it?

But even more than that, it’s that we continue to pay for that pillage in debt payments. It’s not just that Marcos and his cronies raped us a long time ago, it’s that they rape us again and again to this day. Our debt payments are currently three times more than our budget for education—which represents as well a warped sense of priorities on government’s part, though that is another story. Most of that debt was incurred by Marcos and his cronies. Most of that debt went to Marcos and his cronies.

I don’t know why fighting corruption should be limited only to the present. I don’t know why fighting corruption shouldn’t extend to the past, particularly where that past waylays the present and darkens the future. It’s never too late to set up a Truth Commission. It’s never too late to proclaim the truth.

That’s so particularly since we did not just allow Marcos and his cronies to go unpunished, we rewarded them. We did not just fail to prosecute them, we rehabilitated them. We did not just fail to jail them, we allowed them to rule us all over again, or to threaten to.

Enrile felt so entitled to become president, or however he saw himself fit to be after Edsa, he mounted one coup after another to unseat Cory. He ascended to great heights last year with the publication of his version of history, only to fall back to familiar lows again with that same falsification of history. But who knows? Armed with stem cell and the forgetfulness of his compatriots, he might still fulfill his dreams.

Danding Cojuangco nearly became president in 1992. Miriam Santiago of course thought she was the one who was cheated and kept calling herself the real president, but there’s evidence to show Cojuangco bore the brunt of the bawas and Ramos reaped the bounties of the dagdag.

Ramos did become president in 1992. Astonishingly, there were three Marcos people in the first regular election after Edsa: Cojuangco, Ramos and Imelda. Among them, only Imelda did not do well. Of the non-Marcos people, only Miriam did well. Ramon Mitra and Jovito Salonga did not.

And now the Marcoses are mounting a campaign to try to win Malacañang back.

And we are happy to learn that the Supreme Court has ruled that the UCPB shares bought by coco levy funds belong to the coconut farmers? And we are elated to know that the law has decreed that the pillagers should part with an infinitesimal part of their loot? And we are ecstatic to learn that those who made our lives a living hell for 14 years, if not indeed removed a great many of us from this earth, are inconvenienced in this way? That is a pittance.

That is the consuelo de bobo.

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  • buninay1

    As shown by Egypt experience, a sweeping ban on political allies of disgraced and ousted leader like Mubarak from public posts does not hold on for long. In fact, the ban itself was touted to be one of the complaints that motivated the people to go to the streets and demand the Morsi leadership to vacate the seat of power. We as christian nation do not underestimate the value of redemption, of giving someone the second chance. Though hard, we Filipinos following an odd Christian precept of turning the other cheek, allow the egregious abuse of forgiveness by extending all sorts of political accommodations to the personalities who were one way or another implicated in the implementation of martial rule or in the post-Martial law string of financial hanky-pankies.

    Take for instance Enrile who had miserably sunk in the people’s esteem as the supreme martial law executive officer but by some luck was able to recover for himself a fading veneer of respectability and a thin veil of token dignity, enough assets to keep him significant and a force to reckon with in the overall political landscape. And to sprinkle insult and salt to injury, the Corona impeachment trial added luster to Enrile’s dimming star, he it was who headed the court that found the former chief justice guilty of failing to disclose his true SALN. While the iron was still red-hot, he struck it with vengeance by publishing and actually selling his Memoir that was viewed by the more perceptive, more perspicacious and more discerning readers as a treasure trove of propaganda.

    The Marcoses with one of them secured under the aegis of Senate slot, are not content confined in their principality up north. They still angle and position to seize the whole country once given the chance. They had the whole country in the ball of their hands once, anyway. Might as well retake it and reshape it whichever way they want. The scent of power, the glory and majesty tucked under it, the unlimited opportunities inherent in being the top honcho in whose hands is reposed the control of the fate and destiny of the whole country from the most essential down to the last Boracay beach sand must be the proverbial ants in the seat of the pants that keep the likes of the Marcoses in the running.

    The gullibility of Filipinos, their cool temperament and their deep receptacle to forgive and forget, make for a conducive breeding ground for political spoiled brats and rascals. To be sure, they dont care less whether or not a truth commission is created. Filipinos must have grown callous to the iniquity after iniquity that gets exposed only to be swept under the rug and forgotten. (Did you know that Napoles had figured in a Senate investigation once in the past in connection with Bolante Fertilizer Fund Scam?) If only we have a govt that does not pay lip service to the administration of justice and clean governance, we may still go a long way from where we are now. Our country has been stunted economically and intellectually because our leaders themselves are orchestrating the dumbing down through their inconsistent and half baked actions.

    In view of the environment ripe for the children of infamy to easily infiltrate the mainstream of influence and power because the collective vigilance that should have been instilled in the hearts and minds of people has been almost completely torn down, we have the this much for our coconut farmers as their consolation prize for the long wait and the arduous war they waged to get what is theirs. It speaks volume about the power and wealth sharing being observed in this side of the world. It is one which is scandalously tilted in favor of the rich and mighty. We cant stop it because this is the way it is in the country where pillagers and the pillaged live together amicably as if nothing is wrong.

  • cogito728sum

    Society, since the beginning of human civilization, has always been a two-tiered institution. It is composed of the ruler and the ruled. Expressed in various terminologies it translates to: the strong and the weak; the upper and lower strata; or, the rich and the poor. It is a common belief among other societies that as far as economically speaking is concerned, there should be an in-between class, the so-called middle class, which may not necessarily be present because as the economy evolves, these so-called middle class may either be pulled up by the rich or pulled down by the lower class, the poor. Thus, in reality there is no permanent class that occupies the vacuum between the rich and the poor since that middle class is only in transitory motion, invariably towards the upper class.

    In the Philippine setting, however, there is a third variant not in class category but in terminology. That pride of the Malay Race said it thus: “There is no tyrant where there are no slaves.” Translated into the vernacular by a demagogue of the 50’s, it simply means “walang manluloko sa walang napaluloko.”

    The reason why these scandals after scandals have flourished in our midst is because of what that comic demagogue of the 50’s said. Masyado tayong nagpaloko, at hanggang ngayon nagpapaloko parin tayo sa mga manluloko. It is precisely for this sole reason that even our generals, our magistrates, our legislators, our bishops, previous two President (let’s hope hopefully not against all hope that this current one is not?) have not only become corrupt but have even been emboldened by our indifference and placidity to what has always been there for generations. It is only when this kind of scandal becomes a full blown expose that we react in a feigned shock. But shocked are we really?

    Those who are old enough to remember can recall the “It Appears” expose of Salvador Marino in the Macapagal administration when an enterprising American GI allegedly bribed legislators and other high government officials. What happened to him? He was unceremoniously exited out of the country and his partner disappeared in mysterious circumstances. How about that most heinous crime of the century, a massacre that’s only a little more than three years old. Does its shocking effect linger still in us? Or have the people totally forgotten it?

    This alleged scam involving no less than the representatives of the people carries with it a gravity heavier than any comparable case. When the very people that represent a whole group of people can engage in such plunderous invasion of the treasury of the people, then a permanent stigma is attached to the image of such people unfavorable to the outside world. The acts of the agent always affect the principal. So what do we do that can help erase such stigma to our reputation?

    The best thing we, the people, can do is to put a consistent pressure on this administration to make sure that this case is not swept under the rug. We have to remind this administration that for far too long we have been the [unwilling] victims of these scalawags in government. We should remind this President that he should be true to his words that we are his bosses. That he is our servant. It might be quite not that easy to expect him, even with the powers in his disposal, to overcome the collective force of these legislators. But it has been done before not for the overall benefit of the country, of the people, but for the benefit of a despot. If he musters the will to be true to his “daang matuwid” and straighten the crookedness in the government, he should fear not because the people would be behind him as he negotiates the finish line of his “daang matuwid.” Mr. President, its your move! Merci!

    • mad_as_Hamlet

      * * * * * * *

      As August 21 nears, we need more of this kind of posts! A prelude to a call to arms, and to the memory of those made armless and penniless by the”Marcoses-Romualdezes-Their Cronies-And Imitators” Cabal.
      More power, my good friend!

      • cogito728sum

        Merci mi amici, not just for this reply but for standing up for me yesterday on an issue which I could have easily handled myself but decided not to react to. It was just a snide remark not worth dignifying. It demeaned the source not the target.

        Going back to Marino’s expose, since you’ve earned my trust and I have earned your rapport, I wish to confide with you a very personal but valuable experience I had during my student days something I would not easily confide to anyone. In my full ROTC uniform with the rank of Cadet Capt., I confronted one of the legislators of that time right the night after the revelations in his office and I had the good fortune of catching him in a good mood and alone for myself.
        After giving him a snappy salute which he very proudly and affectionately acknowledged, I pointedly said: “Sir, I won’t take much of your time but I’d appreciate a very categorical and truthful answer to only one question. Pointing to my name strip, I continued, would I see my name in the next expose?” His only reply was: “Don’t worry, your name will not be besmirched.” After according him another snappy salute, I thanked him and bade him goodnight.

        Mi amici, the lesson I sought that night was the best legacy he bequeathed me a treasure I’d take with me into the grave, an honourable name. Merci mi amici!

      • mad_as_Hamlet

        * * * * * *

        That’s really a great thing to hear! And I understand the story, even as it’s intriguing, too. I mean with respect to somebody with a Sherlock Holmesian inclination to know more of the “details”! Best regards, my good friend,

      • cogito728sum

        Mi amici, I wish I could divulge more if only out of the friendship that has developed between us. But aside from the impropriety of the venue, it would be most self-serving to do so in public. The only thing I can tell you now is that I would not have had the guts to confront him if the kinship was not direct and close. Rest assured, however, that when the opportune time comes, on top of moonworshiper’s mountain and over a cup of coffee, that would be one of the interesting topics of our cordialities. Merci! and goodnight.

  • Fulpol

    Cory government was revolutionary.. that should be the perfect time to execute Truth Commission.. but what was the policy of Cory? reconciliation.. reconciliation to Ilokanos, reconciliation to CPP-NPA, to leftists and to other Marcos loyalists and cronies..

    what was her policy against Marcos?? just take the loot.. leave the man, Marcos.. courtesy of PCGG.. PCGG instead of Truth Commission..

    running after the money, not running after justice.. what Philippines got??

    the persons, the characters roamed free.. some of the money was taken.. but the persons have the connections and ability to build their wealth again.. Enrile… how about Fidel Ramos, the scheme of privatization of gov’t assets.. Cojuangco got San Miguel Corporation.. Lucio Tan expanded his empire..

    now, they took the money stole by Cojuangco from coconut farmers.. but Cojuangco still there, holding billions in stocks, assets and even cash perhaps.. Lucio Tan? Ramos? Enrile? and Marcoses?? same banana..

    what happened again?? well, the typical attitude of Pilipinos about justice..

    “you are victim seeking for justice.. but if the criminal offered you money as amicable settlement, will you accept it?” if you are typical Pilipino, yes, you will accept it especially if you the victim is in need”..

    expand that attitude to national level.. you got PCGG instead of Truth Commission..

    justice was exchange for money.. attitude of an inferior people, people with no self-respect, with lacking of self-worth, masochists, weak, idiot, stupid people..

    and they even proud of being democratic.. democracy with no justice?? the hell is that..

    CDQ, why the amnesia again?? hate to connect Cory Aquino in your analysis?? I understand…

  • mad_as_Hamlet

    * * * * * * * * *

    If measuring a nation’s GDP growth included delivery of justice—-as it properly
    and wisely should, the same being part of basic services, an indispensable one
    in fact—-our GDP growth would be somewhere in the range of the Negative
    500-1000%, the same being subject to downward acceleration due to the market
    forces known as mockery, fakery, and bribery. Of course, the bulk of the negative is
    accounted for by the “Marcoses-Romualdezes-Their*Cronies-And*Imitators”
    cabal having escaped the hangman’s noose, and with their loot, too. Thus, the
    country’s life goes on. As if nothing happened in Edsa in 1986. As if the Dictator Marcos only constructively resigned, died and was buried. As if people cannot see that in fact he remains unburied. As if people cannot see that he only died in the hope of rising again.
    – – -

  • icemankb891

    Hi,I’m an avid reader,just wondering if ever you’re writing about what recently happened in Davao?I’m curious on your take on the story.

  • Descarte5E

    “I am eager to participate in any investigation, which will reveal the
    truth of this matter. I am also exploring the possibility that there may
    be a political angle to all this in the light of the upcoming
    presidential election in 2016,” – Bongbong, on the JLN scam.

    Bongbong vs. Binay in 2016? Does Mar Roxas stand a chance? Re-elect PNoy? I smell cha-cha. Seems like an Armageddon in 2016. The Government must speed up the collection of Marcos loot. Magigisa na naman yata ang Pilipino sa sariling mantika.

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