Juan â€œJohnnyâ€ Ponce Enrile
Once upon a time, Enrile was just another down and out offspring out of wedlock, growing-up in the boondoks. He had a prominent father, a mother from humble origins, more than his fair share of suffering and humiliation, and all the hang-ups associated with this scenario in that particular era of Philippine society. Through education, Enrile discovered that he was simply . . . brilliant, and he exploited it (still does) to his fullest advantage. Early in life, Enrile realized that talent and perseverance would not suffice. He sued his father and won the right to use his surname. He studied at Harvard and practiced law in his fatherâ€™s law firm. He could now go head-to-head with any brat from any prominent family in Manila. Yet, just when he thought he could break into the â€œcrÃ¨me de la crÃ¨meâ€ of Philippine society, Enrile hit another brick wall. The old establishment never accepted him in their inner circle . . . and they would pay dearly for it.
Marcosâ€™ vision of a â€œNew Societyâ€ or â€œBagong Lipunanâ€ struck a chord with Enrile. He aligned himself with Marcos because this was his fast-track to power and fortune, and his revenge on the old clique. As the Defense Minister of Marcos, Enrile was one of the prime architects of Martial Law, which cemented the dictatorship and the grand pillage of Marcos and his cronies (Enrile included). When Enrile observed the precarious state of the Marcos dictatorship, he deftly maneuvered his defection to the opposition as a brave act of patriotism. In fact, he betrayed his long-standing benefactor when the same was clearly on his way out. Then, he parlayed his act of treachery to re-launch his political career under the new administration and, just as importantly, to protect and nurture the substantial ill-gotten wealth he had accumulated in the previous regime. Ever forgetful and always forgiving, Filipinos generously granted Enrile a clean slate, which he has cleverly exploited to the hilt up to his current august position as the Senate President.
Enrile has always been close to the pinnacles of power because politics has been and remains the biggest racket in town. Through the years, he has successfully projected himself as serving the public interest but, in fact, he has served primarily his own self-interest. Today, Enrile has the gall to foist his son, Jackie (former juvenile delinquent, rapist and killer), to the people as a Senator no less. Contemporary revisionist history regurgitated by unethical (i.e., bribed) media to spread the â€œbig lieâ€ in the manner of Hitler and Marcos regarding the â€œmythologyâ€ around Jackie–that his past transgressions were merely a smear campaign by General Ver. How preposterous! Yet, Enrile is quick to go on the offensive (whatâ€™s the point of having all this power after all?), to bully and to beat down any kind of dissent (however truthful), and have the temerity to characterize himself as the victim–see â€œEnrile files P31-M damage suit vs ad veteranâ€ here. For sure, Jackie landing a seat in the Senate would be Enrileâ€™s greatest con job, allowing the old man to close his eyes, knowing the next generation of Enriles will continue to reap the benefits of political power and ill-gotten wealth.
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Lest you forget, Johnny, you have enjoyed a phenomenally successful political career due to the generosity (and/or stupidity) of Filipinos. Either way, donâ€™t push your luck with Jackie. (Enrile thinks, â€œIf Marcos can do it, then I sure as hell can do it too!â€)
Joseph â€œErapâ€ Estrada
Erap comes from a privileged family and, as such, was afforded all the opportunities of an individual of his station. Yet, Erap chose a different path. A self-confessed delinquent since his youth, Erap dropped out of college, had a highly successful acting career and used his popularity in the silver screen to pursue an equally successful political career. He is handsome, charming and thoroughly irresistible to women–our Filipino Casanova, if you will.
Unfortunately, Erap has become the template of many ambitious and equally unqualified actors, actresses, basketball players and the like. Other than paving the way for more mediocre leaders in the Philippines, Erap also happens to be an excellent example of a liar, a thief (a convicted plunderer to be precise) and, most probably, a killer (at the very least, remember Bentain, Corbito and Dacer). Furthermore, if there is anyone who has so completely perverted the intent of democracy, it would be Erap–who has so exploited the ignorance of the uneducated masses, while he leads them into greater depths of poverty and desperation. â€œErap para sa mahirap!â€ (translates to â€œErap for the poor!â€) is arguably one of the most successful and deceitful political slogans in Philippine political history. Nothing could be further from the truth as his plunder behind closed doors belies his chummy â€œcamera friendlyâ€ interaction with the poor.
The death penalty in the Philippines should never have been abolished and Erap should never have been pardoned after he was convicted of plunder–least of all under the transactional political â€œleadershipâ€ of an individual with highly questionable motives at that time. I refer to the former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, GMA for short, whose rise to a full term of Presidency was a result of election fraud. Not surprisingly, she eventually had to expend an extraordinary proportion of her energy and resources (both essentially resources of the Filipino people being wasted) to defend her â€œlegitimacyâ€ throughout her term as President, including placating the likes of the Roman Catholic Church and the sychophants of Erap. Hence, GMA cajoled Congress to abolish the death penalty and, as President, pardoned Erap–in part due to Erapâ€™s commitment not to seek public office (which he obviously had no intentions of fulfilling). If GMA had not tinkered with our death penalty and our executive clemency (i.e., donâ€™t fix it if it ainâ€™t broke), a convicted plunderer would have been sentence to death–period. In short, Erap would have been six feet under many years ago. Yet, he continues to wreak havoc over Philippine politics. His latest pending victim, the City of Manila.
Like Enrile, Erap is also tryng to peddle another one of his offsprings to the Senate. As if one mediocre Erap offspring (Jinggoy, like Tito Sotto, Bong Revilla and Lito Lapid, who serves as an extension mouthpiece of Enrile) at the Senate was not enough. Are we that bereft of senatorial talents? That is what I mean by Erapâ€™s bastardization of our democratic institutions (pun intended).
Considering youâ€™ve been given another lease on life, Erap, why donâ€™t you stick to your commitment, withdraw your rotten brand of politics and enjoy the spoils of your plunder while youâ€™re still ahead? (Erap thinks: â€œMy sons and I–and maybe even my grandsons– will bleed these ignorant suckers up to their last miserable drop of blood.â€)
Jejomar â€œJojoâ€ Binay
True to TRAPO form (in Filipino political parlance, refers to â€œtraditional politiciansâ€ who use patronage politics to further their self-serving goals; it literally means dishrag), Binay loves to claim credit for the progress of Makati, while he was at the helm. Yet, it was always the initiative and drive of the private sector that spurred progress in Makati. Truth is, Makati progressed in spite of and not because of Binay. Before Binay entered the picture, Makati City was already considered the premier city of Metro Manila. It was already way ahead of the competition and it was inconceivable for any city in Metro Manila to surpass Makati. The job of any Mayor of Makati then was, at the very least, to maintain its competitive edge or, better, to leave the competition in the dust.
In comes Binay, taxes the property owners to the hilt and used the proceeds for his political benefit. During the multiple terms of Binay as Mayor of Makati, the zonal values of properties (dictated by city hall and historically much lower than actual market value) were increased to equal or even exceed the actual market value of said properties, thereby overburdening the property owners of Makati City with exorbitant real estate taxes. No wonder a whole slew of business enterprises decided to move to and/or establish themselves in the neighboring city. The overwhelming success of Bonifacio Global City in Taguig City is irrefutable proof of the long-standing mediocre leadership of Binay, which compromised the unparalleled status of Makati as the premier city of Metro Manila.
Binay claims to have built more schools, provided free healthcare, initiated e-governance, etc. In line with Marie Antoinetteâ€™s legendary motto, â€œLet them eat cakeâ€, he consummately pandered to plebeian sentiments by gifting senior citizens birthday cakes (guess who sold the cakes to city hall until this anomaly was exposed) and granting them free access to movies. Frankly, with his imposition of excessive real estate taxes, thatâ€™s the least he could have done.
Our very own Mr. Bread and Circus, Binay aspires to be the next President of the Philippines. In the event Binay is elected President, we can expect . . . well, more â€œbread and circusâ€; that is, more superficial means of appeasement, more schemes to elicit the approval of the common man, not through exemplary or excellent public service or public policy, but through palliative diversions and distractions. Pimping immediate and shallow desires of the ignorant masses, who already love him for it, while he quietly amasses a fortune in an offshore account under the name of a trusted associate. More bread and circus, Binay for President.
Just like he did in Makati City, Binay will raise taxes one way or another to fund such palliatives to appease his constituency–not just in one city but in the whole country. These will be costly and recurring exercises throughout Binayâ€™s term. His focus on the inherently unimportant (but important to his political survival and personal fortune) will further undermine the already marginally competitive Philippine economy. Analogous to the rise of Bonifacio Global City vis-Ã -vis Makati City, Binay will drop the ball on strategically important matters of state and allow the likes of Vietnam, among other similar emerging market economies, to surpass the slight economic lead of the Philippines. If Binay could compromise the preeminence of Makati City to Bonifacio Global City, which started from scratch, it wonâ€™t take long for Vietnam (which is right behind our heels) to overtake the Philippines while he is President. Binay claims to be a public servant, he claims credit for the â€œsuccessâ€ of Makati City. In truth, he is no more than a pimp of bread and circus. (Binay thinks: â€œMr. Bread and Circus works just fine for me and my kids.â€)
The Three Kings of UNA
Enrile, Erap and Binay are the â€œthree kingsâ€ of the so-called United Nationalist Alliance or UNA–a fancy name and a catchy acronym that represent the empty and self-serving promises of three of the most successful political opportunists in contemporary Philippine history. As the saying goes, birds of the same feather flock together. Each of their lives may be characterized as one self-aggrandizing con job after another at the grave expense of a mostly stupid and very forgiving constituency. As if one lifetime were not enough, they mean to perpetuate their grand deception in the next generation through their respective offsprings. For sure, any semblance of an anti-political dynasty law, which is desperately needed in the Philippines, will not see the light of day under any of these shysters or their children.
UNA sa kataksilan, UNA sa pagsasamantala, UNA sa kasinungalingan, UNA sa pagdarambong, UNA sa pagbubugaw, UNA sa pagpapatay, UNA para sa sariling kamaganakan . . . and woe to the Philippines.