In essence, what Philippine President Benigno Simeon ‘BS’ Aquino III said in his address to the public today on the issue of the fiasco surrounding the now-illegal Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) consists of two key messages:
(1) The DAP was used in good faith; and,
(2) The Philippine Supreme Court was wrong to rule it ‘unconstitutional’.
To make the notion of ‘good faith’ accessible to a bigger swath of his audience, President BS Aquino used a purported text message sent to him earlier in which the use of the DAP was likened to how one might decide to park on a No Parking zone to assist someone in need of emergency help. BS Aquino would like us to believe that this scenario presents us with a clear either-or situation. Get away with breaking the law to attend to an emergency or ignore an emergency to comply with the law.
The fact is, that scenario really is not strictly either-or as you can actually do both. To that supposed conundrum, the resolution is quite simple…
Go ahead and help the guy in need, then pay the fine if you get issued a parking ticket.
Note that the Big Assumption there, however, is that a person was actually helped by that hypothetical illegal parker.
Nonetheless, good intentions are like assholes. Everyone’s got them. Mass murders have been committed and wars started because some bozo thought that he or she was doing the human race a great favour. That is why we have courts and justice systems. You need a coherent framework to provide perspective that third parties can use to objectively evaluate the goodness or badness of your actions. Without that mechanism, everyone would have license to shoot anyone they personally deem not worthy of their place under the sky.
Then again, that sort of sounds like the sort of thing that happens in societies like the Philippines, doesn’t it? Go figure.
Just the same, as President of the Philippines, BS Aquino should serve as the exemplar of subjection to the rule of Law. And the Supreme Court has the final word when it comes to interpreting that law. Aquino knows that perfectly well. He wouldn’t have spent megabucks to fund the impeachment of former Chief Justice Renato Corona in 2012 if he did not recognise the power wielded by a judge’s words and the finality the bang of a gavel puts in these.
Unfortunately, the message he brought across in his address to the public today was tantamount to an insult on the Filipinos’ intelligence and a flick of the bird to the SC. He even repeated the same flawed take on the fiscal position of the Philippines he articulated in his first State of the Nation Address in 2010 (the historical details of which I repackaged for the occasion this morning).
What a guy.
This is the man Filipinos selected to be their leader in a colossal collective lapse in judgement. But that’s water under the bridge. The question now is what happens next. President BS Aquino said his government will be seeking Congressional support in appealing (possibly overturning) the SC ruling. How he’s going to do that now that there is no more pork or DAP to dangle in front of greedy snouts will be an interesting puzzle to ponder while we wait for the next episode in this teleserye.
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