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There’s the Rub

Like parents, like children

/ 09:51 PM September 22, 2013

“My signature was forged!” cries Bongbong Marcos.

What can one say? Like father, like son.

Butch Abad refutes his claim. Bongbong had repeatedly written then Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile and the Department of Budget and Management signifying where he wanted P100 million of his PDAF put. It’s not the DBM, Abad says, that initiates the projects, identifies the implementing agencies and sets the purpose for the request of funds. It’s the legislators, it’s the PDAF holders. That is their power, that is their prerogative.


Bongbong Marcos is one such legislator and PDAF holder, and he wielded that power and prerogative resolutely. He wanted his money—“his” in the entitlement and proprietary sense—into the Agrikultura para sa Magbubukid Inc. and Agri and Economic Program for Farmers Foundation Inc. Both Janet Napoles NGOs.

His signature is all over the place and he would need forgery “experts” whose capacity to tell forged from authentic is spectacularly impaired to bail him out. Or people like Dubya’s father, George Bush Sr., whose capacity for discernment was abundantly shown when he toasted Bongbong’s father, Ferdinand, during the deepest darkness of martial law for his adherence to democracy.

All this is a good reminder of who Bongbong Marcos is, in case he’s still entertaining hopes of becoming president in 2016 in an effort to duplicate his father’s life, if not indeed vindicate him.

He is the son of the one person whose ghoulish handiwork we marked again last Saturday. Saturday was Sept. 21, the 41st anniversary of martial law. But it is one of curiously revealing things about the character of the father, which was passed on to the son: Marcos Sr. couldn’t even tell the truth about the actual date he declared martial law. He did not in fact declare martial law on Sept. 21, he declared it midnight of Sept. 22, or technically Sept. 23. Sept. 21, 1972, was a Thursday. Marcos declared martial law midnight of the following day,

Friday, or technically early Saturday, to make sure there would be no students taking to the streets to protest it.

He later antedated the date to Sept. 21 because of his superstitious belief that the number 7, or multiples of it, was lucky for him. Well, maybe it was; he got to rule as dictator for 14 years, though only fitfully in later years. But it was godforsakenly not so lucky for the rest of the country. The 41st anniversary of martial law is in fact today, Sept. 23.

Bongbong is the son of the one man who was repeatedly described in the international press as having stolen his country blind. He so stole us blind we’re still groping into the future long after he went, politically and bodily. The scale of the pillage was such that Marcos landed second in Transparency International’s 2004 list of the world’s most corrupt leaders. Not just Asia’s, not just the South countries’, but the world’s. He comes next to Indonesia’s Suharto, his loot being reckoned at $5-10 billion, compared to Suharto’s $15-35 billion. These are conservative estimates, but even just these figures give you a mind-boggling picture of epic ransacking, especially deeply hurtful as we are continuing to pay for it in debt payments. As will our children and their children, taking interest into account.

Not quite incidentally, Erap figures in the list, too, in 10th place. Two Filipinos included in the world’s most corrupt leaders! That alone must commend us to Guinness as the one country that has the best claim to being the Ladrones Islands. Erap is reckoned to have carted off $70-80 million. His son, Jinggoy, like Bongbong, leads the senatorial co-conspirators in the Napoles scam. One is tempted to say like father, like son, too, except that Erap was at least honest about his women, if not his loot.


Of course, Erap can always argue that the Transparency International list was done well before his successor, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, was done in this country. If the group had made that list a little later, he might have seen her ahead of him. That would give us the dubious distinction of having three of the world’s 10 most corrupt leaders. Some things at least we have the capacity to be world-class in.

The backdrop of martial law offers a good perspective from which to view corruption in this country, which is a panorama all by itself. I’m truly glad we’ve gotten incensed and stoked to fury by the spectacle of the utter waste of pork, and I’m truly glad we’ve finally done something about corruption—the haling of legislators before the Ombudsman will produce ripples far bigger and more far-reaching than Erap’s conviction.

But that backdrop should give us a sense as well that all this is just the beginning.

In the scheme of things, pork is just a small detail in our own canvas of the Inferno of corruption. The amount of P10 billion itself looks like penny ante compared to what Marcos stole, what Arroyo stole, what Erap stole. It should also remind us that lurid and scandalous as the legislators’ conduct has been, they are not the biggest predators of this country. Our presidents, real or fake, are. Our leaders, truthful or prevaricating, are.

The road stretches out before us, and it is a rocky one. But I’m at least hopeful in this respect that what has been birthed in recent months, what has been spawned by the sudden apparition of stark profligacy amid stark want, will not dissipate so easily. Indeed, will grow to encompass corruption beyond pork, will grow to encompass the need to recover what has been stolen from us, will grow to define the character of the new Filipino. I’m at least hopeful that the next generation will not end up emulating their elders but not very betters, will not end up becoming:

Like parents, like children.

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