“Is the President a virtual dictator?”
In his column “To the Point” posted in The Manila Standard on Oct. 24, 2013, this is the question that reputable columnist writer Emil Jurado posts to the Filipino people.
Jurado then proceeds to add salient points;
“President Aquino appears to be a virtual dictator, having both the Senate and the House of Representatives, and now the Judiciary, under his control. With the House of Representatives ruled by the administration majority under Speaker Sonny Belmonte, and Senate President Frank Drilon acting like an extension of Malacañang protecting the President from allegations of abuse and misuse of public funds, with the Supreme Court under Chief Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno, and with most junior anti-graft court Justice Amparo Cabotaje-Tang as Presiding Justice of Sandiganbayan, the President now appears to rule over the three branches of government.”
“Santa Banana, what happens now to the system of checks and balance which makes our democracy work?”
Jurado emphasized that “Not even the late dictator and strongman Ferdinand Marcos achieved what Mr. Aquino has done. Yes, during the years of Martial Law, Marcos was both the Executive and the Legislature. But he never had full control of the Judiciary, not the way President Aquino has done. Now, Malacañang can do anything it wishes with the people’s money and worse, even in the administration of justice.”
The focal points of Mr. Jurado’s column had reinforced a dreadful forecast which I have accentuated in my earlier article “Quo Vadis Philippines? A Frightful Forethought of the Future” posted in my blog on October 12, 2013, excerpts of which:
“Much as we have wanted to be governed by a democratic government to rule the country by representation, the Constitution established our rights to live in freedom unimpeded by submission to others by setting up three branches of government that would oversee and provide a “check and balance” situation. Unfortunately for the Philippines, these branches of government have developed into co-conspirators in fleecing the people evidenced by recent scandals and malfeasances in the Judiciary, Ombudsman, the Military, Executive Departments and the House of Senate and Representatives, among many others”.
The formidable victories of the administration and coalition candidates in the Senate and the House of Representatives in the 2013 elections unconditionally guaranteed President Aquino III of a majority in the Legislature to blindly support whatever decisions that will come into his mind.
Furthermore, the domination of both the Senate and House of Representatives as well as the Higher Courts of the land by the President’s allies has emboldened the President to disregard the call of the Filipino majority to scrap the PDAF and DAP by defending the constitutionality of the pork barrel system. This was very clear in the president’s televised speech Wednesday, Oct. 31 that “fanned the anger among various anti-pork barrel groups, which vowedto stage more and bigger rallies in the coming weeks to pressure the President into giving up his discretionary funds.” The groups, inspired by the Million People March and “Edsa Tayo” rallies, said they would mount a series of massive protest actions beginning Nov. 7.”
|Photo courtesy of thelasallian.com|
Most of the reactions of the anti-pork barrel groups were reported in The Manila Standard internet-issue of Nov. 1, 2013, as follows:
“Protests are bound to get bigger, President Aquino is courting a People Power type of sustained protests. The fact that his Halloween special last night is a failure is an indication of the people’s widespread outrage versus pork, the corrupt system and the Pork Barrel King,” said Vencer Crisostomo, president of Anakbayan.
Bagong Alyansang Makabayan secretary general Renato Reyes Jr. announced that the #AbolishPork group led by Archbishop Oscar Cruz, Sr. Mary John Mananzan, Fr. Joe Dizon, the Concerned Citizens’ Movement, Pagbabago, Youth Act Now, Artista Kontra Korapsyon, have joined forces with militant groups to mount a nationwide protest on Nov. 7, 11, and 13 that would culminate on, Bonifacio Day.” Reyes said anti-pork advocates would storm the Senate on Nov. 7, when Janet Lim Napoles, the alleged mastermind of the pork barrel scam, will testify before the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee.”
“Hijacking primetime to defend pork and DAP shows Aquino is in fact the Pork Barrel King. His assertion that he is not a thief only further enrages people and highlights his thievery. The fact is that DAP and pork equals theft. These are funds allotted supposedly for the people and for the poor which they stole for their “kapritso,” Crisostomo said.”
“House Deputy Minority Leader and Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares said now that the President has spoken with finality in defense of the unconstitutional DAP and the pork barrel system, Filipinos would have to resort to bigger rallies and “a resolute campaign” for a people’s initiative.
“President Aquino was misleading the people when he said that only his political opponents are calling for the abolition of pork, and the people, including the Million People March, the different church leaders, various institutions and organizations, even Chief Justice Reynato Puno, are just stupidly following the dictates of these politicians,” Colmenares said.
“He refuses to admit the reality that the people are generally incensed with the pork barrel and the DAP because it is not just the source of graft and corruption but of patronage politics as well. The misuse of public funds by giving it to political allies and withholding it from political opponents, or the giving of public funds to influence the Senate, or the Congress, or the voters, to support a bill, or a candidate, or an impeachment complaint, is no less evil than graft and corruption because it is also an abuse of public funds,” Colmenares stated.
Colmenares added: “President Aquino has lost touch with reality when he thought a PR speech deodorizing pork will reclaim his sagging popularity. His sagging popularity came from the peoples’ response, not from politicians, to survey questions.”
Barbara Mae Dacanay, Bureau Chief, Manila of Gulf News reported that President Benigno Aquino’s popularity net rating went down to 49 % in September 2013 from 64 % in June 2013, due to revelations about widespread misuse of public funds by government officials.
This report was affirmed by the latest survey of the Social Weather Stations (SWS) conducted on, the President’s satisfaction rating has hit the low point or gone from very good to good, that is, went down to +49% from +63 % 3 months ago.
Palace spokesmen had stressed that “While an overwhelming majority of Filipinos remain supportive of the President and his agenda, we recognize that the increase in those dissatisfied reflects the depth of anger and disappointment of the people at the way public funds have been stolen [by elected officials,”
By the way, the President’s speech on Oct. 30 defending the DAP disbursements had caused a serious stir among the President’s men. On one side is Executive Secretary and Presidential close friend Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa at odds with Liberal Party stalwarts DILG Secretary and losing 2013 VP candidate Mar Roxas and Senate Pres. Franklin Drilon. What does this mean?
Another development which is most disturbing is the recent people’s initiative where former Supreme Court CJ Reynato Puno said “ If Congress won’t scrap the allocations, (PDAP and DAP) then Filipinos can use the people’s initiative to push for a constitutional ban.”
|Photo courtesy of gmanetwork.com|
In his book “BLIGHTED” the late former Solicitor General and anti-corruption advocate Frank Chavez said: “Amidst the confounding social malaise that grips a country best by inequity and an inordinate tolerance for corruption, the lives of 3 young Filipinos intersect in a twist of fate. Their divergent backgrounds and class associations provoke nagging questions on morality, with the core narrative embroiling a spectrum of Philippine society. From unimaginable conditions of squalor to swank villas that define the matrix of avarice, political patronage and “quid pro quo” accommodation, the conflict rages between noble conviction and metastasized greed, ultimately between evil and good. Despite the present day morass, the courage of a few good men spells a nation’s birthright; to transform a blighted future to one of brimming hope of the future.”
In my earlier article published on Oct. 12, I made an educated conjecture by asking these questions “Are we gearing for another possible dictatorship? Or is another “EDSA” revolution in the offing? Or in its worst, is there a brewing military coup?
Well, well, well... your guess is as good as mine…
Rogelio G. Balo
Central Valley, California USA
Nov. 6, 2013