Sure it is not illegal. But is it ethical? Perhaps Filipinos are such a confused lot that they no longer are able to tell right from wrong. According to a Businessweek report, the amount of time and effort spent by the President is not insignificant…
Philippine President Benigno Aquino spent a third of his working days in the past two months campaigning for allies seeking seats in the senate, where he barely won the vote to raise tobacco and liquor taxes.
Indeed, even embattled Senator Loren Legarda who is currently reeling from controversy surrounding a posh Manhattan condo unit she allegedly owns and supposedly failed to properly disclose in her annual Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth (SALN) is reportedly banking on BS Aquino’s seemingly unconditional support for his team and squeezing as much political capital out of it as she can…
On Monday, Legarda’s office released to the media copies of Aquino’s statement expressing support for the senator. Presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda confirmed that the President issued the statement for Legarda, who is currently running for reelection under the administration slate.
“Throughout this campaign, Loren Legarda has enjoyed the overwhelming support of voters, which is in keeping with her longstanding status as a member of the Senate and a public official. She has a long and credible record of advocacies, which is the foundation for her public support,” Aquino’s statement read.
“I am confident that she is not only prepared, but will do her utmost best, to answer any and all allegations raised against her,” the President added.
A third of the working days of the President of the Philippines.
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How much is all this costing the Filipino taxpayer?
In doing this, no less than President BS Aquino has joined the endorsement racket and counts himself among people like “matriarch” of Philippine showbiz “Mother Lily” Monteverde who yesterday in a press conference also threw her support behind Legarda citing the Senator’s ability to balance family and work. But is BS Aquino being paid to be an election campaign pinup? Or is he being paid to run a country? Perhaps he should ask the Filipino people (who he calls his “boss”) what they think.
We then come around to wondering how much time President BS Aquino will be spending defending Legarda now that her problems further deepen. Just recently, Louis Biraogo, the “self-styled public interest advocate” and “businessman” who blew the whistle on Legarda’s alleged Manhattan property portfolio has reportedly filed graft charges against Legarda…
Legarda said she declared the property in 2007 under the SALN’s “other investment” column.
“There is nothing in her SALN for 2011 which indicates where the Park Avenue residential condominium unit is located in the United States, how respondent acquired the said residential condominium unit, its current fair market value, and whether or not there is any improvement on the property,” the complaint stated.
The SALN form requires public officials to identify the exact location of a property being declared, something which Legarda has never done, according to Biraogo.
Biraogo said he provided the Ombudsman the deed of sale from the New York Registry of Deeds, which shows that Legarda was the sole buyer of the condo unit, contrary to her claim that she only has about P7-million equity in the property and the rest was paid by her father Antonio and brothers Edgardo and Antonio, Jr.
Considering a senator’s salary of P75,000 a month, Legarda also allegedly failed to establish how she was able to buy the property through legal means during her term as senator.
Familiar? It sounds almost exactly like the prosecution’s mantra during the impeachment trial of former Chief Justice Renato Corona. Indeed, Legarda acting as “senator-judge” in that trial voted guilty under the rationale that not doing so “would tragically lift the floodgate for public suspicion and widespread distrust on the highest institution of our judicial system.” Consistent with this is Senator Edgardo Angara’s observation that “[Corona’s] willful and deliberate omission [in his SALN] amounts to a culpable violation.”
Fellow senator Sergio OsmeÃ±a III noted that “public officers had been dismissed from office for failing to declare far less remarkable and less valuable assets in their SALNâ€™s” while Senator Pia Cayetano reminded all that “Public office is a public trust. Once that trust is gone, we must step down to preserve the integrity of the position we hold.”
Perhaps Noynoy owes it to Legarda to spend as much of his presidential time and money to defend her. After all, he did spend even more of that valuable presidential time crucifying Corona. He may as well. One third of the President’s time (time funded by his boss’s tax pesos) spent on campaigning for his manoks will all go to waste if Legarda — the crown jewel of Team PNoy — gets nailed to the wall for this alleged indiscretion.
But then, we ask, all for what? According to Legarda herself, it is “a fellow reelectionist […] on the Team PNoy ticket [who] was behind the latest attack against her.” Yikes! On top of that one third of his presidential time on the campaign trail, Noynoy should’ve spent another third of his time building team esprit. Suffice to say, “Team PNoy” is really just an election winning machine — devoid of any philosophical or ideological underpinning. That’s about as much as the Filipino gets for all the taxes they pay to keep the president’s bum warmly planted on a comfy chair in MalacaÃ±ang.
[Photo of Noynoy Aquino courtesy CNN Talk Asia.]
benign0 is the Webmaster of GetRealPhilippines.com.