Trust is not a word you can associate with the Philippine government particularly the one headed by the incumbent President Benigno Simeon (BS) Aquino. His term has been plagued by accusations of incompetence, conspiracy and thievery from Day One. Considering many Filipinos still doubt the legitimacy of his Presidency on account of his win in the first automated election as being allegedly rigged, BS Aquino’s legacy will be that of dishonesty and mediocrity.
Despite his most staunch supporters claiming that BS Aquino is an “honest” President, his actions and that of his staff tell a different story.Take the case of Department of Justice Secretary Leila de Lima. The madam secretary has been pleading with everyone to “trust” her in handling the list of lawmakers who benefited from the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) or pork barrel scam. Unfortunately, much as they would like to, the public just cannot trust her to do the right thing.
First of all, De Lima’s inconsistency is so apparent. All of a sudden she is all about following procedures and what the law dictates just because it is rumored that the list includes BS Aquino’s allies in Congress. Unfortunately, her penchant for divulging damning information about the accused prior to conducting investigation and providing evidence is catching up with her. Who could forget the time when she aired her suspicions to the media prior to “substantiating” and “verifying” an “anonymous” text message that former President Gloria Arroyo was seeking political asylum in the Dominican Republic in an attempt to avoid prosecution for her alleged crimes back in 2011? Arroyo’s camp even cried foul of De Lima’s bizarre move:
The camp of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo on Friday warned that Justice Secretary Leila de Lima could be disbarred or criminally charged for publicly discussing an unverified text message that tended to cast doubt on Arroyo’s motive in seeking permission to travel abroad.
On the phone with the Inquirer, Arroyo spokesperson Elena Bautista-Horn said that before airing her suspicions to the media, De Lima should have done the “honorable” thing and substantiated the text message that Arroyo, now a representative of Pampanga, was seeking political asylum in the Dominican Republic.
In a statement, Lambino described the text message as “concocted by the government and now circulated in public in order to get more headlines and continue embarrassing, harassing, oppressing and vilifying the Arroyos.”
Proof of De Lima’s wicked ways is so easy to find on Google search. There is not a shred of doubt that most of her actions have the seal of approval from her boss, BS Aquino. Her loyalty is such that despite her appointment as DOJ secretary being rejected by members of the Commission of Appointments every year, BS Aquino repeatedly re-appoints her to the same position. The President’s critics even reminded him that when he was still a member of congress, he was very much against “issuing ad interim appointments to bypassed Cabinet and other officials”. Indeed, there are thousands of lawyers in the Philippines who can do a better job than De Lima. Some are even easier on the eyes. It is a real mystery why BS Aquino cannot replace her with any one of them.
Definitely, the conflict-of-interest alone is enough reason to replace De Lima as DOJ Secretary. It is easy to see why De Lima is treading carefully this time around. The list of lawmakers given by pork barrel scam mastermind Janet Lim Napoles could include the names of those who are in the Commission of Appointments – those who have the power to finally confirm her appointment as DOJ secretary. De Lima could be dealing with a list of names that can either make or break her career. And so we should understand also why she could be reckless with information involving people who she considers those who have no power over her. The woman knows how to work it.
To be quite fair, what De Lima is doing is the right thing. It would be irresponsible of her to implicate individuals in the pork barrel scam without providing evidence. Who knows if Napoles was under the influence of drugs when she came up with the list and just randomly wrote down the names of the senators she didn’t like? She was said to have undergone major surgery for her ovarian cancer after all. Who knows if she was of sound mind at that time? She is also under a lot of stress and is reportedly receiving death threats left and right. Being under duress can also lead someone to blurt out irrational things.
The point is, can the public really trust a list from someone like Napoles who lived a lie for years and whose objective now is to save her own ass? I don’t think so. This is why De Lima or someone more competent and more trust worthy than her should do the most prudent thing and investigate first before damning the people on the list. We all know that most Filipinos believe rumors more than the truth. Once the names of the people on the list have been publicized, it would be hard to repair the damage to one’s reputation in the public’s eyes.
Ironically, in the Philippines, knowing that their public servant cannot be trusted won’t even matter on Election Day. The same bozos or their relative will most likely get voted into office again.
Sadly for De Lima, the clamor from the public for her to divulge the names on the list is getting louder. She is being accused of hiding the truth so she can “sanitize” the list and save the reputation of BS Aquino’s allies for her refusal to do so. She and her boss BS Aquino created this problem to begin with. They did not have the foresight to see that whatever they did to their political enemies would come back to bite them. Their penchant for engaging in trial by publicity has made the bloodthirsty public hungrier for more. Even the first to be named and shamed like Senator Bong Revilla and Jinggoy Estrada cannot wait to see the list. The glare of the spotlight must be too bright for them and they are eager to share the limelight with the other thieves.
Indeed, trust is not a word you can associate with Philippine government particularly the one headed by the incumbent BS Aquino. It seems his goal is to elicit emotional responses from the public and not rational responses. An emotional public is easier to distract from the truth.
In life, things are not always what they seem.