Even as I’ve always harped about the culture of crime that pervades our society, a fuller extent of the Filipino’s capacity to tolerate criminality and injustice has only recently revealed itself to me. This revelation comes in the wake of Ilda‘s article Election and everyday fraud which highlights the occurence of cheating in this year’s elections, and Morga‘s Imelda’s “jewelries” which brings to light various identified irregularities in the management of the Marcos Loot recovery effort.
The common denominator that links the above two is the lack of a wherewithal in us as a people to:
– investigate every irregularity and instance of impropriety identified;
– validate statements made on record by people who have come forward with information on these;
– follow through on leads founds; and,
– exhaust every available channel that could facilitate faster attainment of the goals of these initiatives.
Even back in 2004, an anonymous contributor to GetRealPhilippines.com published a similar lament on the low place that the issue of the recovery of the Marcos Loot has taken in the public awareness. The first indictment on the seriousness of the State around recovering what rightfully belongs to it can be found, thus:
Why hasn’t the Philippine Government parleyed on the likes of the Financial Action Task Force on Money Laundering (FATF), established by the G-7 Summit as far back as 1989, to mount an offensive against the financial institutions that have benefited from the Marcos deposits at the expense of Filipinos? This initiative could substantially increase the Government’s recovery (in addition to the recovery of Marcos’ loot) by way of damages from such unethical establishments.
Where the second indictment on the focus of this pursuit comes down to is hardly surprising now. All roads ultimately lead to it:
And finally: Why isn’t the public concerned about their government’s foot-dragging on this issue?
Yes sirreee. It comes down to the character of The Filipino.
Cheating in elections? Same banana. Nobody seems to care.
Compared to Marcos’s $5 billion stash (by conservative 1989 estimates) — which, by the way, could’ve been worth $16 billion today — perhaps cheating in this year’s elections pales in comparison. But in terms of the social cost to our society, the damage may be immeasurable. Indeed, measuring the damage of rampant cheating in every election has become a pointless exercise, because Philippine society is already undoubtedly damaged well beyond repair. With this damage comes less inclination to investigate crime and with that an increasingly fertile ground for criminality to fester further.
Indeed, as with all the other crimes that have become banalities in Philippine society, we simply let election cheating and Marcos’s plunder slide. What makes this specially relevant nowadays is how these come in contrast with the profile given to the lame platitudes that brightly coloured the campaign and the moronic non-issues that marked the last leg of the President-Elect‘s journey to Malacanang.
Even as the Yellow Media continues to gush about the triumph of the “people’s will”, it fails to grasp the irony of how this nebulous “will” that voted Noynoy Aquino into the presidency on the basis of his “kung walang corrupt, walang mahirap” pitch, then went on to vote into Congress two of people that all but puts this entire campaign promise at risk (as if Noynoy would even make good on such a promise unhindered!). Indeed, Imelda Marcos and Gloria Arroyo are now Congresspersons by virtue of the popular vote. As Morga sees it:
Starting July, Gloria Arroyo and Imelda Marcos will be together in Congress as representatives of Pampanga and Ilocos Norte, respectively. The conspiracy theorists suspect that Arroyo’s decision not to auction the Marcos jewels was done to earn Imelda’s goodwill in Congress.
I agree with where Morga is coming from. Checkmate on Noynoy even before the unlikely prospect of him manning up enough to finish what his mommy did not pursue sees the light of day.
Funny therefore, the way Conrado de Quiros reveals how much he’s missed the whole point of the issue of election fraud here:
I never thought I’d see the day when the people who said the elections would be massively fraudulent would be saying they were in fact massively honest and the people who said the elections would be massively honest would be saying they were in fact massively fraud-ridden.
Old Gramps here forgets a couple of facts. Firstly, during the campaign he got all giddy about the prospect of election fraud as a gateway to the next ocho-ocho (a.k.a. “people power”) “revolution”, and had even gone just short of inciting it:
Or more to the point, what can the Aquino camp do in the event of massive cheating? Organize a walkout of observers at the first hint of cheating? Maybe. Whip up public indignation? Maybe. Create a Yellow Army? Maybe.
Second, he then was among the first to get all giddy about the massive “mandate” the people had conferred upon Nonoy Aquino in this election he had so dismissed beforehand as likely to fail. Trust tatang to be so spectacularly inconsistent while we here remained consistent and unwavering in our call to defer to the institutional and procedural rather than to the nebulous “people’s will” of emo politics that de Quiros and his ilk incite.
That’s the problem with people who put politics ahead of a stable set of deeply-set principles that are not grounded on personalities. In de Quiros’s case, his view on the nature of the outcome of the elections stems from the emerging fortunes of the personalities he is loyal to. Compare that to those of us who owe loyalties not to people but to well-developed ideas.
In this regard, it is easy to see now what the fundamental source of the Filipino’s astounding tolerance for criminality and impropriety is. In the instances of these I cited in this article — election cheating and foot dragging in the recovery of the Marcos Loot — it is the personal relationships and loyalties of the parties involved that (1) hinder the effort to do things properly and (2) kill the development of an ethic of regarding systemic opportunities to facilitate proper practices. Just as de Quiros’s inconsistency with regard to his position on election fraud can be traced to his irrationally staunch Aquinoism, the Filipino’s habitual beholdenness to specific people fatally dims any hope of systemic and institutional reform in Philippine society.
As long as Filipinos latch on to people rather than ideas, they will forever be victims of people rather than captains of their destiny. Our penchant for putting our loyalties to people ahead of our loyalty to the community is consistent with our tradition of failure to internalise a true spirit of community.
And that, my fellow Filipinos, is why our society remains imprisoned by a culture of crime.
[Image courtesy Neal Oshima]