Barrettos in our mirrors
Talk about stealing one’s thunder for the sake of one-upmanship at the expense of public information. There is a way to rise above this low tit for tat of three tell-all sisters, each brandishing their dirty linen in public in the most viciously vulgar manner that our television networks are only too happy to report on just to milk media ratings.
Change the interview questions. The lives of these three sisters, each one accusing the other two of being a paramour of this man and that man, are actually woven into the growing ineptocracy of the present administration.
Hong Kong’s newspaper of record, the South China Morning Post, opens with the mystery question “why a leader who has ordered numerous killings in his infamous war on drugs would be fazed by such a minor celebrity catfight.” Cued by the (hold your breath) presidential-utility-man-now-senator-now-back-again-as-utility-man Bong Go, media explains it this way: one sister is “the live-in partner of businessman Antonio ‘Tonyboy’ Cojuangco, part owner of the Okada Manila casino and a Duterte supporter.”
The President himself has much to answer then. Remember when he said the Marcoses and the Villars were his campaign donors? That wasn’t reflected in his statement of contributions and expenditures (Soce). Neither was Tonyboy Cojuangco. Did the President lie in his SOCE (frankly, who doesn’t?)? If he did, where did the Marcos, Villar and Cojuangco monies go? It appears to have gone to their preferential treatment, not excluding the wake of the supporter’s paramour’s father.
Ruben Carranza, the former PCGG commissioner, instead suggests in a social media post what questions to ask Gretchen Barretto’s partner Tonyboy Cojuangco:
“1) Why did Antonio Cojuangco pay Imelda Marcos hundreds of millions — in cash, inside shoe boxes — for PLDT shares that he claimed were his and not ‘owned’ by the Marcoses (after they forced PLDT’s original American owners to sell out during the dictatorship)?; 2) And why didn’t the BIR and the Anti-Money Laundering Council investigate, after the PCGG informed them, what taxes were paid and how much money was laundered for Imelda Marcos by her lawyer Eleazar Reyes the year Cojuangco had those cash-filled shoe boxes delivered to Marcos in Hong Kong?” Conjugal half Imelda Marcos of course is on record denying the deal with Cojuangco.
We are titillated no end by this catfight of siblings immodestly baring their illicit lifestyles in public. That is because we fail to see that when we look at ourselves in the mirror, we see the Barrettos in us in their counterpart phantasms. Is it because we already are in a delirium that we do not see through the mirror clearly?
The image is clear of legislators who die to get elected because public office is the country’s most lucrative business of money laundering. This fiscal year alone, each one is assured of being a “project implementer” of “itemized” budgets (kuno) in the whopping figure of P100 million. As the SOP reportedly goes, at least 20 percent of that will be for their personal kickbacks amounting to P20 million each. That means in the next three years of their term, each one will be covertly richer by at least P60 million. Neat. Congress is a whorehouse of bedfellows for money. What difference does that make with those who hop in bed with rich men, convicted gambling lords and a Metro Manila city mayor who support extramarital families possibly from the public coffers? They are of the same league. Don’t these all titillate us?
We see a Supreme Court of political cohorts with no qualms to bend the laws just to accommodate the lust for power of a thieving family whose wealth does not even belong to them. They are of the same league because a concubine gets her wealth and mansions only from ill-gotten means. That does not titillate us? No, we are not roused to interest because our standards of leadership are actually nonexistent.
With thieves and concubines like these, the President does not need enemies.
On Twitter: @AntonioJMontal2. Email: [email protected]
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.