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Welcome a season of liars, cheats, thieves

/ 05:12 AM January 03, 2019

A recent New Yorker cartoon showed a man and a woman dressed for wintry weather and clasping hands in a park, with him telling her in what I imagine as the most ardent of tones: “Let’s savor these last fleeting moments before the election cycle begins anew.”

It made me smile, because social media, during the Christmas season, enjoyed a respite from political propaganda and mudslinging. Only the sponsored links of candidates with questionably deep pockets like Imee Marcos, she of the well-chiseled chin, and the ubiquitous Bong Go could afford to continue their campaigns to win voters in the May senatorial elections.

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Otherwise, Facebook’s news feed was replete with photos of families and clans enjoying noche buena, other family members relaxing by the mahjong or poker table, children holding up their new toys or flaunting their new clothes and rubber shoes, and other similar sights of goodwill.

It was the time leading toward the season, when the discerning couldn’t stop from the frenzy of holiday preparation, that reports about the authenticity of the Marcos woman’s claim that she had finished her undergrad degree at Princeton University surfaced.

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A 1986 report, entitled “Imee Marcos’ Princeton years controversial” and published by Asbury Park Press in New Jersey, was reprinted. It said Imee enrolled for “a variety of courses” under the political science department, but did not receive a bachelor’s degree from the Ivy League university.

And yet her official biography, which can be downloaded from her Facebook site where she enjoys over a million followers, continues to claim that she graduated with honors (italics ours) from Princeton.

Her alleged report card, where she got failing grades for such subjects as Contemporary Latin America, Byzantium, Medieval Architecture, Man in the Chinese Tradition, Judaism in the Greco-Roman World and Junior Independent Work, went viral, but it still has to be verified as the university, under federal laws, does not release the grades of current or former students.

The point being, Imee is still lying through her chin (forgive the reference to that part of her face again). One of these days, her pert nose will grow to Pinocchio length if she proceeds with trying to cast a spell on herself and an unwary public to make her appear like she is made of legendary stuff.

Sure, you may argue, an undergrad degree isn’t a requirement to run for the post of senator. To qualify, one must at least be able to read and write. ‘Tis a pity that standards for such a lofty position in the land should be set so low.

As James Hamblin, writing on Donald Trump for The Atlantic, bemoaned, there is an “alarming absence of a system to evaluate elected officials’ fitness for office.”

No wonder we seem like a “cursed” nation, the object of ridicule around the world. An accused plunderer like former senator Bong Revilla, jailed for amassing P224 million from kickbacks from his Priority Development Assistance Fund, is back on the saddle, gunning for another term of office with the goal of clearing his name.

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Before him, Juan Ponce Enrile also walked out of prison to resume where he left off, while Jinggoy Estrada is out on bail. I can almost hear a Judy Garland-Barbra Streisand duet playing in the background: “Happy Days are Here Again,” a song associated with the onset of the New Year.

Again I ask, like the nagging wife and mother I can be: Where are the Rectos, Dioknos, Tañadas, Kalaws who brought dignity, wisdom and gravitas to the Upper House? (I have long given up on the House of Representatives which, under another plunderer and electoral process destroyer, the current House Speaker Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, has morphed into a mere rubber stamp of the Duterte administration.)

The issues of human rights, social justice, defeat of corruption in public office, Philippine sovereignty over its own territory, are being sidelined by candidates like Marcos, Go, Revilla, Enrile, whose source of campaign funds is wide-ranging pelf.

The opposition is slowly creating a clamor for radical change in social media. Stinging barbs against the Duterte minions can be expected to fly once the Feast of the Epiphany is over. One of these days, and I hope this happens soon enough, that clamor will translate into the Filipino voters’ own epiphany and realization that enough is enough—that our children and grandchildren deserve better.

Elizabeth Lolarga is a freelance writer and full-time homemaker. She also paints on the side.

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