Inside the perfect storm


What a week! A Napoles storm, a pork barrel storm, and a storm called Maring. If ever there was a perfect moment to be upset, it is this week. The boat has been rocked, apathy greatly disturbed, and once again, nature shows the stupidity of urban development.

The Napoles drama is one for the books. If we give credence to the still unfolding story of the P10 billion scam by a pair of whistleblowers, then a slap in the face just woke us up. The scam was a crime waiting to be committed. It was not born from greed alone, it was a fruit of arrogance, the same arrogance and sense of entitlement that, on Day One of his presidency, P-Noy called Utak Wang-Wang.

It is not as though our politicians invented power that has no moral moorings. The principle of might over right, the same principle which justified powerful nations to conquer, enslave and plunder innocent people and lands across the world, is the parent of Utak Wang-Wang. Without Utak Wang-Wang, and without an impoverished people pliant enough to accept it, the alleged Napoles way of robbing the treasury with accomplices from almost all sectors simply could not have happened.

The whistleblowers’ story showed a scam not so awesome for its sophistication, but one awesome for its arrogance. It did not deal with an intricate mind, it dealt with an attitude of supreme confidence. And, as the story goes, we cannot blame the mastermind for devising a scheme full of shortcuts that should have exposed the numerous and obvious violations of law and procedure. After all, she was supposed to be money-making machine for senators and congressmen, for Cabinet members, the DBM and COA. Who, then, can stand in her way – especially in the 9-year presidency of Gloria who is now accused of plunder and the theft of a presidential election.

The arrogance of Utak Wang-Wang manifested its arrogance in key agencies that have been traditionally penetrated with corruption. Observing closely the dynamics of politics over the decades has allowed me some views that connect the dots of long ago to the dots of today. Corruption is not a lifeless practice. Rather, it is aggressive and feeds on human greed. When I look back at the allegations of massive corruption levied at previous administrations, many of their public officials dead by now, I see patterns beyond the specifics.

While greed may have driven the corruption of those in power, it is arrogance that makes them cross the line of secrecy or subtlety towards vulgarity. Vulgarity is necessary if one wants to pocket great amounts of money, and arrogance allows vulgarity to transcend fear. In Transparency International’s list of the most corrupt among world leaders, as of 2007, Ferdinand Marcos and Joseph Estrada made it to the Top Ten. I anticipate the great possibility of a third Philippine president in Gloria Arroyo barging into the winning circle if another Transparency International rating will be done later this decade.

If one reflects on what is common among Marcos, Estrada and Gloria in relation to plundering the nation, it is the arrogance by which the plunder was committed. And if one looks closer to that arrogance, it cannot be kept secret for that would be against its very nature. Arrogance is like a peacock, and it will draw admirers. That is why the plunder of presidents include a whole retinue of Napoles-type personalities, individuals with the blessing of the gods who do not need to use much intelligence, just much arrogance.

Before arrogance establishes itself, corruption must first become a sub-culture of governance. That means that many of the highest appointees do not merit the positions they are favored with, that their qualifications depend on both political connections and the willingness to be thieves for the appointing powers. Arrogance in the commission of plunder requires an atmosphere of governance that accepts wrongdoing as standard. Listening to the ugly story as narrated by the whistleblowers easily point to the existence of that atmosphere where might is right and above the law.

An atmosphere of corruption must necessarily include all three branches of government. The system of checks and balances is theoretically in place, but it is only a system that needs people to design it, to follow it, and to institutionalize it. Dishonest people can never follow a system designed to keep them honest. Therefore, if one branch of government will be corrupt and get away with it, it must make the two other branches of government corrupt as well. A system designed for honest governance must have officials who, like the famous three monkeys, see nothing, hear nothing, say nothing.

In many societies where the level of corruption, arrogance and looting became intolerable, the historical counter force was bloody revolution. In the Philippines, the application of bloody methods has not fared well with our culture. No matter the level of abuse, Filipinos have not sought revenge through orgies of violence. That is why the insurgency of the Left, grounded on horrible inequality, has failed to succeed because violence is its primary methodology.

The administration of P-Noy should not fear the people’s demand for change. P-Noy himself is the most high-profile reflection of the people’s deep desire for change. He won because the people wanted change. His legacy will be one of change.

The pork barrel practice keeps tradition from changing, and that is why it is gravely affected. The good that it may have done and can still do is not enough anymore to offset the bad that it has done and will continue to do. To serve the needs of our people better, and in a cleaner way, another pathway can be innovated. Consultation with the Legislative Branch can still be made necessary but the Executive Branch must take full responsibility in the application of programs and projects.

The people’s protests have always been against the darkness of dictatorships, against the ugliness of corruption, and hopefully, against the perpetuation of poverty. After four centuries, we may well be inside our perfect storm.

Get Inquirer updates while on the go, add us on these apps:

Inquirer Viber

Disclaimer: The comments uploaded on this site do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of management and owner of We reserve the right to exclude comments that we deem to be inconsistent with our editorial standards.


    Before arrogance establishes itself, corruption must first become a
    sub-culture of governance. That means that many of the highest
    appointees do not merit the positions they are favored with, that their
    qualifications depend on both political connections and the willingness
    to be thieves for the appointing powers

    Right! Here is an example.
    COA has established that DAR was used as a conduit of PDAF in a scam. It is at present headed by Alcala an appointee of Pnoy who is said to have a case filed agaist him in the Ombusman when he was a congressman. . What is ridiculous is that Alcala got the sertvice of Agawin and even promoted her. This Agawin would be facing charges when the fertilizer fund scam of Joke Joke Bolante is set to be heard. The 10B peso question is why did Alcala get Agawin to work under him? This hoopla surfaced just lately in the newspapers irating Pnoy. He gave Abad and Alcala some scolding only. He should have given them some SCALDING. There is more to it than meets the eye here. The problem is that the people involved are acting suspiciously for the reaction does not equal the infraction done.

    • sebastian abao

      Right! There’s another one. National Archives Executive Director Victorino Manalo through Abad connection was appointed even if his qualifications is museum related and not 10 years in archives and records management as the qualification provision of the archives act of 2007 specifically required.
      Now, he is doing museum works in bohol for ayala museum, obviously using government funds on projects he did not finish during his private practice.

      • TGM_ERICK

        Ang daming kalokohan talaga nangyayari sa Pnas gob. :-)

    • Eustaquio Joven

      You’re right about Alcala and Agawin except that Alcala is DA Head, not DAR. Another PNoy appointee who has a pending case is with the ombudsman is Neric Acosta of LLDA. Rescued from Arrest is Grace Padaca. But the star of them all is one who is not facing any charge at all. And that, precisely, is why she is a star.

      When Dinky Soliman was the DSWD Head under Gloria, her CODE-NGO was awarded a whooping P1.8B; .4 of which was admittedly awarded to the bright boys and gils who concocted the so called PEACE bonds. P1.4 was left to the NGO who will implement programs for the poor, kuno. How much was due in interests alone did this transaction reach when it matured on October 16, 2011? P35B, no less. Imagine this as the tail of an elephant. And the elephant itself is the CCT which PNoy entrusted to this very bright girl. Ang P10B PDAF scam ay butas ng karayom pero ating nasisilip. Ang CCT, kung ating pagbabasehan ang nangyari sa PEACE bonds ay butas ng palakol. Hindi ko sinasabing kalimutan na natin ang laban sa PDAF.

      • TGM_ERICK

        Thanks for the correction. Soliman is indeed a star for another reason. She is the daughter of Pnoy’s kapatas in Hacienda Luisita. It was Cory who initiated her into politics. Maliit lang ang mundo sa mga magnanakaw. :-)

  • Berteni Cataluña Causing

    Very good points, sir JLM

  • etivacondon

    So very well written.

    • kino

      yes, not an articulator but a writer

  • sebastian abao

    Thank you sir!!! Another enlightening treatise on corruption. Our perfect storm! Hopefully, hopefully.

  • MiguelLorenzo

    I hope that, similar to Mount Rushmore in the US, we can erect the busts of the 3 greatest plunderers on the most impoverished community or stinkiest garbage dump of the country to remind these looters that they are the cause of the people’s miseries and this is how they will be remembered. Will the looting stop? or we will have to add more?

  • Boy_Paco

    Few good men in Philippine government to counter the perfect storm.

  • carpediem123

    3 years into its administration, Pnoy has not been able to put in jail any high profile corrupt thief government official. i think Noynoy is incompetent and a wimp afterall. His gun hobby is lame front to use a manly thingee to disguise his cowardize. Torpe sa babae connotes a deep seated low self esteem. Probably honest but a fool nonetheless definitely. Lazy comes to mind constantly as a persistent and nagging observation. WTF!

    • Eustaquio Joven

      Pnoy has not been able to put in jail any high profile corrupt thief government official…

      How could he? Tumigil ang pag-inog ng mga kaso ng mga taong inilulok niya sa gabinete, at sa iba pang tungkulin..

      • carpediem123

        excuses are the sanctuary of the incompetents and the morons. its a simple yes or no. has he succeeded in jailing a corrupt official or not? Pnoy has command responsibility. Every cabinet member serves at his pleasure. he could hire and fire anytime! the failure of his minions is his ultimately-the buck stops with him…

    • Eustaquio Joven

      Hindi siya torpe. Tutol lang si Kris sa lahat na natipuhan niya.

  • jus_sayinagain

    You’re still stuck on Gloria like you’re still stuck on your pony-tail? Do you really have the interests of the Filipino people’s future at heart, or is your advocacy some hobby that affords you so much travel and presidential perks.

    You seem to say the right words yet mean something else.

    • pilipino_ako6

      I for one do not mind reminders of crimes of the past. If there is anything us Pilipinos need, it is to remember and learn from them. Our memories are terribly short lived!

      • jus_sayinagain

        Oh I remember the crimes and the perpetrators and the those who take advantage of their position in life at the expense of the ordinary Filipino. I do not remember anyone of note getting punished….except for the firing squad of one Lim Seng and the rapists of Maggie de la Riva. I am Filipino and I do remember.

    • Scorpio15

      Sa ngayong panahon sila ay mga “Untouchables” dahil maraming Pera at Connections.
      Ika nga sabi ni Morales at De Lima walang Sacred Cow. Sa kanila wala. Pagnakawala o tapos na ang Imbestigasyon papunta na ng Ombudsman.
      Sa Ombudsman kaya wala ding Sacred Cow??? Ito ang isang Million na Tanong.

  • farmerpo

    Let us remember that the seeds of corruption are sown every three years. We sell our votes and the winners reap the fruits. and we have the gall to complain? If not for the ‘slap on the face’ as you put it, and if not for ease of yelling our frustration on the Net, where will we be? Let us put up or shut up. Plug the source of corruption, not the PDAF, not the Houses, not Napoles (they are the reapers) but us when we sell our votes.

    • rinom

      whatever you sow you will reap. is valid until today.

To subscribe to the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper in the Philippines, call +63 2 896-6000 for Metro Manila and Metro Cebu or email your subscription request here.

Factual errors? Contact the Philippine Daily Inquirer's day desk. Believe this article violates journalistic ethics? Contact the Inquirer's Reader's Advocate. Or write The Readers' Advocate:

c/o Philippine Daily Inquirer Chino Roces Avenue corner Yague and Mascardo Streets, Makati City,Metro Manila, Philippines Or fax nos. +63 2 8974793 to 94


editors' picks

May 29, 2015

Double standards