"Why do we vote our officials this way?"
The Senate race is still a popularity contest.
If poll surveys are to be believed, the fact that Senate reelectionists are emerging as top names tells us a lot. Public awareness and popularity are still the primary consideration, not credentials, qualifications, experience, integrity and honesty.
Candidates like Lito Lapid serve as the perfect example of voters choosing from mere familiarity. People forget that when Lapid was a senator, he could not participate in discussions. I cannot even remember him sponsoring any bill!
It’s actually tragic and pathetic that we would choose our candidates this way. Why are Filipino voters not discerning? Is it because we are not educated? Is it because we are stupid?
When it comes to local leaders like governors, congressmen, mayors and vice mayors, the issue is accessibility. Are they approachable, and if you ask them for help, would they relatively give it? If the answer is yes, then it does not matter if they are corrupt or if they are drug lords or jueteng lords.
This is why even narco-politicians get elected. For voters, so long as they are generous, nothing else matters.
This is a reflection of the kind of electorate we have.
President Duterte will never be able to end corruption during his term. Corruption is so deeply entrenched in the system.
Government corruption reminds me so much of my time at the Philippines Herald as business editor. Scandal after scandal erupted during the fifties. Even the pork barrel scam involving Janet Lim-Napoles cannot compare to the corruption in the allocation of foreign exchange during that time. The anomalies continued beyond the incumbency of the President Elpidio Quirino and Ramon Magsaysay. They were triggered by the lack of foreign exchange after the Japanese Occupation.
In those days, even congressmen had to line up before those authorized to allocate dollars on behalf of their clients and friends.
Santa Banana, this went on to a point when even some members of the Central Bank’s Monetary Board were found to be involved in the racket of securing dollar allocations for their businesses or friends.
I knew this firsthand because a mobster-friend of one of those accused kidnapped me for a night just to make sure I would print the side of his friend.
Another scandal during the fifties was reparations from Japan. Members of the Reparations Commission were so powerful that those seeking reparations from Japan even had to line up at the office of a Visayan congressman in a Tokyo hotel to have their applications approved.
I know this for a fact because at the time I was often in Tokyo. The scandal was so brazen and unprecedented that even those who had no business in shipping got ships and cargo vessels as reparations for the plain reason that they were allies and friends of President Carlos Garcia.
Would you believe that even a tabloid publisher was able to wangle a vessel—approved by the commission—and was soon able to sell it to shipowners?
This is why I believe corruption is endemic in the government system. It’s the system itself that encourages corruption, which sooner or later swallows those in power.
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I join other members of media who have filed petitions before the Supreme Court to lift the ban on Rappler reporters from coverage of government activities as members of the Malacañang Press Corps.
To me that is a prior restraint of press freedom. To ban reporters from getting news from the Palace just because the reportage is critical of the President is clearly a violation of press freedom.
When I justified the move of the Securities and Exchange Commission to cancel Rappler’s certificate of registration for not being 100-percent Filipino as mandated by the Constitution as saying that it was not in violation of press freedom.
And when Rappler was sued for cyberlibel, I also went on record that it had nothing to do with press freedom. When Rappler was sued for tax evasion, I defended the government by saying Rappler is not exempt from paying taxes.
But the banning of a reporter from covering Malacañang is something else. It’s a violation of press freedom and the Supreme Court must rule to lift it.
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There is no other way to resolve the controversy over the tons of garbage that Customs unloaded at the Manila Port but to file a case against the importers and to ship the garbage back to Canada where it came from.
There is no reason for Customs to accept the garbage. This is in violation of environmental laws. Likewise, whoever was responsible for accepting the trash should be charged.
It is incumbent upon the President to resolve the issue once and for all.
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It is good that Malacañang backtracked from the President’s earlier statement that the rehabilitation of Marawi should be left to the city’s affluent residents and businesses.
The responsibility to do this rests on government, plain and simple.
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A caveat: Don’t rely too much on poll surveys. They are commissioned by politicians and are therefore self-serving.