Philippine Senate turns into an expensive cockpit as Enrile and Santiago continue to lock horns

It used to be that the shady world of high-level corruption among politicians was an opaque black box where public funds (taxpayers’ money) went in one end and vacuous political rhetoric and infrastructural mirages went out the other. Nowadays, that unspoken pact amongst crooks has steadily unraveled before the public eye. It started with that spectacular skirt-lifting frenzy that was the impeachment trial of former Chief Justice Renato Corona where “senator-judges” presumed to judge the country’s top magistrate for abuse of authority.

miriam_santiagoIt goes without saying (because of the vast size of the cliché at work here) that twenty four sinners kept themselves really busy posing for the cameras while they threw rocks at the proverbial adultress during the first half of 2012. But this being the Philippines (where the obvious issues and their equally obvious solutions hardly ever capture the public imagination), it does not hurt to keep harping on the obvious

Ironically, some sectors of Philippine society consider these Senators as heroes for convicting Corona; never mind that there was nothing heroic about what they did. It’s not like Corona was found guilty of plunder like former President Joseph “Erap” Estrada, the father of Senator Jinggoy. Corona is not even a convicted mutineer like Senator Antonio Trillanes who won a Senate seat while he was in jail for the crime of rebellion. Corona wasn’t even a repeat offender like Senator Gringo Honasan who led a series of coup d’etat against former President Cory Aquino during her term and who managed to escape while incarcerated. Corona did not even fake his own assassination attempt the way Senator Enrile did in 1972. His act was said to have been used by then President Ferdinand Marcos to justify declaring Martial law. Senator Enrile was also a suspected co-conspirator in the election cheating done in the 1986 “snap elections”, which was said to have robbed then candidate, Cory of the election.

It’s not as if this information will really change the way Filipinos will apply their world-renowned ignoramity when they troop to the polls in this year’s elections. But there it is anyways for the reading pleasure of the real victims of this sad republic — those of us who think.

But the real eye-opener in that mudwrestling match was the highlighting of just how secret the country’s bank secrecy laws kept things. Bank secrecy in the Philippines, after all, protects the rich and powerful — lest their vast holdings be made available to public scrutiny and the money trail they leave behind squirrelling hard-stolen dough (amassed from exporting logs, gold and people and selling substandard hardware to the Army) to tax havens abroad be sniffed out. Unfortunately for the rich and powerful, the action-packed bickering in the Senate during the trial distracted their trustees in the Philippine government from their more overarching mission of maintaining the status quo. Instead, the esteemed Senators (into whom much investment was poured by the rich and powerful) inadvertently laid their decades-long game bare on national television

Ironically, Corona himself may have marked the beginning of the end of the very law that had saved him during his ordeal. In the wake of his much-awaited personal appearance in court, Corona bestows an unexpected legacy to a circus long criticised for being an appalling waste of time and a mere product of the vanity and vindictiveness of a Philippine president: a precedent call to the government officials of the land to sign waivers opening their foreign currency bank accounts to public scrutiny. The call so resonated across the public that it could pave the way for legislation that may reform the country’s outdated bank secrecy laws.

Indeed, the accidental genius in President Benigno Simeon “BS” Aquino III’s coercion of Philippine Congress to mount a grand lynching of the hapless former Chief Justice to protect Unlce Peping’s family jewels is in the way it exposed just how big a bunch of morons the Philippines’ “honourable” legislators are. The Corona trial will go down in history as the event that exposed how prone to lemming-like behaviour the House of Representatives is, scurrying like the blinded rodents that they are over a cliff as a furious BS Aquino challenged them on how committed they are to his fake notion of the straight-and-narrow (daang matuwid). The trial also created a permanent rift among the Senators, the ripples of which we continue to feel today as we enter the campaign period of the 2013 elections which, as a consequence of this rift, promises a most entertaining televised mudslinging orgy amongst these revered “representatives” of the people’s “voice”.

The highlight of this rift is the row between the trial’s most vocal critic, Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago, and its former presiding judge, Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, that has since transcended the Corona circus and escalated into permanent adversariality. The locking of horns between Santiago and Enrile, on everything from foreign affairs to the handling of public funds in the Senate has turned the Senate into an expensive cockfighting pit with the looming elections serving as both the smoke blown into the birds’ faces to keep their gladiatorial juices flowing and the money poured into the battle by both serious gamblers and two-bit kibitzers to make it really entertaining.

Philippine politics may be stupid, but like the stoopid characters in a good Coen Brothers movie, it never fails to give us a good show.

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33 Comments on “Philippine Senate turns into an expensive cockpit as Enrile and Santiago continue to lock horns”

  1. Question for the voters.
    Is senator lito lapid worth 40 – 50 million pesos a year of your money.( are any of them)

    Rumour has it that he actually takes far more asking the highest % in commission/kickbacks on his 200 million per annum pork barrel.

    CoA is pathetic and only muddy the waters, and the resident pet coa auditor wouldn’t be allowed to make the coffee at price waterhouse.

    1. The guys education might not get him in the door at Price/Water… but if he is riggin the books, they would love him as their own.
      btw, I think P.W. has changed hands /declared bankruptcy.

      1. it was price waterhouse during my time.
        it is now pwc, following merger with coopers & lybrand, and is worlds largest accountancy/audit firm.

  2. They might have convicted corona but in doing so, they have opened the way towards their own undoing. Their true natures are unmasked. It is only a matter of time before the same happens to aquino and his crooked KKK.

  3. Again spot on.

    An apt piece to mark one of the darkest days of Philippine politics, 1 year after.
    The crooks in the senate were given the chance to rise up to the occasion and prove that they are more than mere crooks. They blew it.

    1. Yeah they seem to be trying to pretend the status quo is still acceptable even if the Pandora’s Box with regard to their secret bank accounts, understated SALNs, and veiled contempt for one another had been opened. Then again, given the track record of Pinoys when it comes to remembering lessons, these politicos may actually succeed at eventually sweeping all these under the rug given enough time, bread, and circuses (all of which are resources they possess in abundance).

      1. Our national delusion is perpetuated by most of our so called “free” media.

        BS Aquino’s campaign promise alone, to open his bank records, still remains unfulfilled. Are his followers mesmerized by his “daang matuwid” slogan complaining?

  4. There was an interesting expose recently on bbc panorama outlining just how commission money from pork contracts is laundered and hidden by politicians in the east ( they focussed on india, which is on a par with the philippines when it comes to political corruption), so that it is undetectable and referred to as ‘clean money’ with no paper link back to the politician.
    No wonder the bulk of the marcos money cannot be found and senators try to portray a ‘holier than though’ attitude, confident that they have covered their tracks.
    A subservient CoA and compliant press also ensures tgat hard questions are never asked.
    A year after corona, congress still refusing to release saln’s with bureaucratic excuses hoping it fades away in the public conciousness, and FoI will be abandoned as before due to lack of quorum.

    With a 2 trillion budget this year, politicians would kill to get elected

    America gave the world pork barrel, mcdonalds, and the kardashians. They have a lot to be blamed for.

    1. As far as I know, although maybe I missed something living through all or part of the terms of EIGHT different US administrations, your pork barrel is a uniquely Pinoy invention. Anyway, whatever government system you imagine you inherited from the US has had no less than 66 years for you to screw it up, don’t blame it on us.

      1. you certainly did!
        maybe american voters are as naive as filipino voters.
        check it out. it is easy enough.
        or ask jackie chan!

        1. When Marcos was ousted and he’s in America, he was not allowed to get an American citizenship. Or whatever similar with that.

          Jeez, they know he could run for presidency in US once he is a citizen!

    2. Blame? Why oh why oh why, do you have to blame someone? Do you think the people in the USA are all sitting home plotting things, so they can dominate the world?

  5. Please do not define the “matuwid na daan” as the straight and narrow path that leads to salvation. The double standards of BS Aquino, his subtle, creeping dictatorship and what he did and failed to do, reveal his true path. This is the straight and wide path leading to perdition!

  6. The problem with Da Penoys is they blame everybody: history, god, race, color, sun, past, present, future, rock, on and on. They have the ball and the field. Duh…..??

  7. The Philippines bank secrecy laws, like the restriction on foreign ownership in the 87 Constitution, are not just relics of an earlier age – the age of imperialism, as opposed to the age of globalisation – they are a real and present danger to the Philippines very existence.

    As “offshore” banking gets cleaned up elsewhere in the world – with even Switzerland, Jersey, Monaco and the Cayman Islands coming clean, the Philippines, with its out dated bank secrecy laws and readily buyable judiciary and legislature, looks increasingly attractive to serious international crime and serious international terrorism.

    Unless the bank secrecy laws are repealed, we have a real danger of becoming a failed state.

    This is really, really, important – it goes far beyond the mere corruption of the Senate and the House – it is a direct threat to the safety of every Filipino.

  8. Hey, the CATS out-of-the-bag, no F.O.I., bank secrecy laws, a Governor admitting if the FOI were 2 Be law that congress could all be EXTORTION VICTIMS for what would be found out if the books were opened.
    Question is, are the people a unified ,cohesive unit capable of doing something about these sorry-as-shit/shameless happenings that is what is going on, and on a daily basis too!!

  9. YO YO, Filipino’s, know what your own Gov’t. is doing? Imagine going to ‘Def-Jam’ Comedy Hour, OK? 24/7. Every few years they have to be a li’l ruthless and get elected…childs’ play!

  10. But do not feel bad,u kno? It is happening in every Country in the World. People who get into power, rob things, set things up for themselves, get their kids good paying jobs whilst turning them into their parents. So, you see, your just like everybody else. AND it has been going on for centuries, the way of the world, yes-suh!Proudly Pinoy? UH…not really.

  11. OOH, not a playing ground, huh? AND WHO are you? Listen buddy, post as you like, it matters little to me. What? U think you run this, HA!
    BTFO.

      1. Because you have a lot of nerve to tell anyone to do anything, when it is not ur blog. Think your so smart and you could not figure that out? So who are YOU? You think who you are, but you are just a nobody, so back off! Callin me kid, HA you make me laugh, so do your idiotic comments, try to act intelligent, but your just a jackass who thinks he matters to the web-masters of GRP.

        1. Joe,

          Kid, check your reading comprehension first and then we exchange pleasantries.

          I’m just confused where you are basing your claims.

          BTW, I’m a jackass, a nobody, and for you, my comments are idiotic.

          So?

  12. Lacson whining like the little girl he is.
    “Senator spending budget on maids salary”

    What about
    lacson’s make up
    Lapid’s hairdye
    Enrile’s diapers
    Legarda’s botox
    Cayetano’s running shoes
    revilla’s mistress

    Like lance armstrong lacson ( who runs away when in a fight) is only selective with the truth. So dishonourable

  13. The ATM machines at times are full of people who use multiple cards, they actually carry stacks of cards or they used to but now I see they have gotten more clever at hiding this but I still have to wait while at least 5 cards are used by these ATM card zombies and they withdraw the maximum amount from the machines are these government employee’s or family members of government? Is this the safest way to funnel money by putting it on credit cards, I never hear anyone address this or even seem to care or even know what’s going on.

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