The Senate has approved a big increase in the President's discretionary fund, money meant for national contingencies like earthquakes and typhoons, outbreak of diseases hitting fowls, livestock and humans, and, now, to pay for each soul killed by police during legal and extra-judicial operations.
The cops who salvaged 17-year-old Kian are waiting to be exonerated by the Internal Affair Service, which has become notorious for letting rogue cops loose to commit havoc on the criminal justice system again, and again, and again. Not that Justice secretary Aguirre or Duterte care, as long as the cops are not made to pay for attack on a government facility like a prison compound, murder, planting of evidence, and perjury -- like what Supt. Marcos and his cohorts did in their operation to erase Albuera Mayor Espinosa. They had even applied for a search warrant to serve Espinosa, a prisoner already secured and under control in prison! How else could these rogue cops gain access to Espinosa, except by pointing their guns on the prison guards, and to hide their criminal acts by stealing the prison's CCTV? The Senate panel eventually concluded that the Marcos operation was no less than a heinous murder. But Duterte declared that he believed the rogue cops' moronic version of what had transpired.
It's a given that Espinosa had controlled the illegal drug trade in his territory, had destroyed many lives, had presumably ordered some rivals intimidated or killed. To eliminate him, the president allowed, and still allows and encourages, cops to become wayward and commit several other crimes to get the big drug lords -- unless they are Chinese. Early in his term Duterte has declared he will give P20,000 for each drug pusher killed. A reward bigger than an average cop's salary is a powerful incentive for good cops to turn sour, and many are tempted. And the budget for public schools is about to be sacrificed so that Duterte's criminal decree can be maintained.
When Duterte ordered Supt. Marcos to be reassigned to his former post, despite ongoing investigation, Senators Gordon and Lacson protested, pointing out that their hearing had produced definite proof that murder had been committed. Then silence. What else can be expected of a legislative body, headed by Koko Pimentel, to be coopted by the executive branch? So the country's system of checks and balances is now tottering on a crippled Judiciary's leg. The mining conglomerate in Congress has succeeded in ousting Gina Lopez out of the DENR. The depredation of natural habitats continue, the price Duterte paid for his insane programs. Taguiwalo followed, and somehow we are beginning to suspect that this president is not fighting for the good of the citizens but for the benefit of his cronies. What a group surrounds this Duterte! -- The entire Marcos family with their puppy Erap Estrada, now crunching Manila's coffer (father, like son Jinggoy, has not learned during their first incarceration); Gloria Arroyo and her dubious allies in the fake minority in Congress; Tessie Aquino has been resurrected; of course Tito Sotto and Manong Johnny Enrile are in attendance, Bible quoting Pacquiao apparently replacing the dead Maceda burning in hell, to name a few.
But are these criminals to blame at all? We ignore the fact that the people of Ilocandia gave us Ferdinand Sr. And Jr., Imelda, Imee, Fariñas, and others who have robbed the entire land. Pampanga nurtured Gloria and her thieving family, and Davao spawned the evil loyalist Duterte. Who protested when Recto filed his law introducing VAT in our economy? As if the crocodiles in Congress have not grown fat with the bounty from our sweat that more are extracted, excise and confiscatory; we financed their stately homes and townhouses, and the apartelles where they keep their mistresses in style. We are feeding Pacquiao's idiot brother in Congress too. We are breaking our back to get food to our table, yet the government is taking 32.5% of what we earn to pay the very large (to us) salaries of poopymouth Mocha Uson and airhead Matin Andanar at the Presidential Communications Office. We are also paying other hoary Abella and weirdo Panelo to lie to us from time to time. Now Duterte is surrendering territories to China in our behalf, even making threats for China gratuitously. Are missiles really pointed at the Philippines? We are surrendering too? Even rats fight for survival when cornered, but this Duterte is a whining dog with his tail between his legs. Like any coward he strikes only at foes that are helpless behind bars, or let rogue cops kill, at his instigation, under-age citizens whose alleged crime is not as heinous as the president's setting the price of a Filipino soul at P20,000. We do not forget the death of a seven-year-old girl: she was eliminated by cops who gunned down her grandfather while they were taking a stroll. Yet other Filipinos who are supposed to be decent, educated, professional, religious and adherent to God's admonition against taking a man's life, are openly declaring support for state-sponsored murder. Where is the bottom to this hypocrisy?
What is clear is that the citizens have surrendered their rights and patrimony long ago -- first to the Spaniards, then to the Americans, now to Filipinos who control every aspect of our lives -- to the Ayala family and Pangilinan, who control the flow of water and overpriced electricity to our homes; and to their Singaporean and Malaysian partners, who decide how much the citizens can endure the slow broadband signals in their desktops and gadgets. Investors may be inveigled to roost in the Philippines, but it does not take long before they eventually flee to Hong Kong, Thailand, South Korea, Malaysia, Indonesia, where electricity is cheaper and more dependable, where wifi thrives on 4G, where electric wires are buried underground and not shamelessly littering the skylines like thick and dirty cobwebs. ASEAN's 75th anniversary was celebrated here, but the world leaders were gathered at Pasay's PICC, far enough from the sight of the squatter shanties hugging Manila's Pasig River. At least there is subtlety now in hiding our shame. In Marcos' time, in 1981, the sides of the roads, from the airport to Malacañang, were fenced with whitewashed galvanized sheets, to hide the unsightly home of the poor from the eyes of the visiting Pope John Paul II. The Pope found the Coconut Palace, constructed for his stay, too lavish and he decided to stay elsewhere. Pope John Paul II held dear in his heart the impoverished Pinoys. He saw that the people's material impoverishment does not reach the core of their happy acceptance of what life offers them, even if the offering is often meager.
Maybe by this attitude we can understand a piece of the puzzle here, why Filipinos allow themselves to be abused so much. The Filipinos, even after a fire that razed their community, after a typhoon or raging volcano devastated their homes, can still afford to smile in the face of adversities. We let the crooked politician, businessmen and government officials take our money, with the corresponding headaches, backstabbing, envy and intrigues, and we let events slide, as long as our children, unshod, wearing uncoordinated garments, eating cheap noodles and headless sardines, still manage to laugh at play and once in a while remember to toss a kiss our way, then we are alright. The thieves may be buried under ornate tombs, but the undiscriminating worms devour their earthly presence and burp off their atrocious schemes. In the end, what counts is how much fun we did have in the Philippines.