Until recently, the core dysfunction in the collective thinking faculties of Philippine society has largely gone unpenalised. Careers have been broken, people unjustly imprisoned, and suicides committed because of this. The current imbroglio that Philippine politics has now found itself neck-deep in following the grossly-misguided release of various lists of alleged pork barrel thieves by no less than the President, the Secretary of Justice, and former Police chief Panfilo ‘Ping’ Lacson this time may claim different victims for a change.Senator JV Ejercito whose name was included in one or a number of the lists released by the camp of alleged pork barrel scam ringleader Janet Lim Napoles has stood out amongst the crowd of list deniers by successfully extracting an apology from no less than Napoles’s attorney Bruce Rivera. “The encoder made a mistake. He’s not included. We apologize to Senator JV,” Rivera now says.
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Ejercito may now be in the mood to forgive. But forgiving is different from forgetting; “Height of irresponibility. Reputation badly damaged by their act. Thinking of what action to take.” he tweeted today. According to Ejercito the whole supply chain of flawed information — including the Department of Justice and the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee — is liable for this slander.
Committee head Senator Teofisto Guingona III released the signed initial list last Thursday despite appeals from de Lima, saying it’s time to put an end to all speculations amid the disclosure of several unsigned lists.
In the weeks prior to the flooding of the National “Debate” with these Napoles Lists, social media “activists” had been busy using their social media clout to pressure all who were purported to be in possession of such lists to reveal their contents. Leading the charge was a group known as the “#ScrapPork Network” which, in an “open letter” to Justice Secretary Leila De Lima demanded that the lists be made available to the public under the premise of a need to “enable citizens to independently inquire into and verify what funds and projects were involved, and who among our public officials may have been involved…”
The group invoked the citizens’ constitutional right to information stipulated in Article III Section 7 of the 1987 Philippine Constitution which reads…
The right of the people to information on matters of public concern shall be recognized. Access to official records, and to documents and papers pertaining to official acts, transactions, or decisions, as well as to government research data used as basis for policy development, shall be afforded the citizen, subject to such limitations as may be provided by law.
The question they needed to ask (but didn’t), however was quite simple:
Is the Napoles List an official government record or document that pertains to an official act, a government transaction/decision, or a form of input into research used for policy develoment?
The argument that the public have a right to be privy to evidence used in the on-going pork barrel scam investigation would fly if this exercise were political in nature. But, unlike the impeachment trial of former Chief Justice Renato Corona, this is not a procedure being facilitated by a political body. Nontheless, as recent history revealed, that simple principle simply flew over the heads of the nation’s activists, thought leaders, ‘civil society’ leaders, and officers of law and justice. Merely the latest of a long testament to the long-observed intellectual bankruptcy of Philippine society.
Manila Times columnist Ben Kritz highlights the fatal nature of the Philippines’ current lack of intellectual bearings in his recent blog post The Revolution Seems Unlikely. Or Does It?
In all likelihood, an uprising to topple the Aquino Regime would look more like Egypt’s and less like Poland’s or Czechoslovakia’s, precisely because there is no personified ‘post-revolution vision’; the Philippines does not have a Walesa or a Havel, much less a Gandhi or a Mandela, and it is in some ways a sad indictment of the quality of Philippine society that some of the names which have been cautiously put forward as possibly filling that role are laughably inadequate by comparison. The last figure who might have even come close was Ninoy Aquino – but that is a judgment based on largely mythical ‘what-ifs’ generated after his death, and the sorry records of his superstitious and vindictive consort and his apparently sociopathic heir tend to suggest the elder Aquino might have been a disappointing leader had he lived.
Indeed, this is only the most recent of instances when the whimsical ideas emerging from the din of non-thinking popular chatter (subsets of which consist of the badly-degenerated “activist” community) and the endorsement of these by a cardre of institutionalised “thought leaders” in Philippine Media trumped the more mature thinking processes of the country’s true intelligentsia.
benign0 is the Webmaster of GetRealPhilippines.com.