Boom corrupt, corrupt
Boom corrupt, corrupt
boom, boom, boom!
…As the opposition version of the ditty goes.
Today I wrote my first entry for Current, a blog for Inquirer.net that John Nery (of Newsstand fame) and I will be writing on alternate days. So if you have time, you can take a look and see how that blog will differ from this blog, and my views on Barbara Boxer’s US Senate hearing on the deteriorating human rights situation in our country.
One additional bit from the Report of the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor of the US Department of State, can serve as a take-off point for this blog, though:
e. Denial of Fair Public Trial
The law provides for an independent judiciary; however, the judicial system suffered from corruption and inefficiency. Personal ties and sometimes venality resulted in impunity for some wealthy and influential offenders and contributed to widespread skepticism that the judicial process could ensure due process and equal justice. The Supreme Court continued efforts to ensure speedier trials and to sanction judicial malfeasance and was in the midst of a five-year program to increase judicial branch efficiency and raise public confidence in the judiciary.
The point here is that when corruption enters the picture, then the very things that should serve as safeguards -the law, legal procedures, etc.- become viewed as a means to ensuring that the law becomes yet another tool to protect the mighty and disadvantage the weak. This is at the heart of disagreements between people like myself who oppose the Anti-Terror Law, and its supporters like Philippine Commentary.
If the law is being used to bludgeon even legitimate dissent (as I think it is) than regardless of the good intentions of a new law, if it serves to increase the opportunities for actually eroding the credibility of the law, then I don’t think any such new law should be given the benefit of the doubt. For example, Dean Jorge Bocobo says the law is necessary and if abused, he will be at the barricades to denounce its misuse; but the barricades have already been raised; the abuses are taking place, the new law adds a new measure to the statute books that will increase abuse.
but the main point today is corruption. If, as the State Department’s report points out, corruption slows down the wheels of justice and in effect, makes them come off the axle of governance, then corruption in the judiciary presents an obstacle to the rule of law serving as a deterrent to human rights violations (worse, the atmosphere of impunity, in which abuses take place but no one gets punished, that has people rationalizing and excusing official human rights abuses on the shallow pretext that well, you have to fight fire with fire).
And not just when it comes to shadowy war between our armed forces and the NPA. The Bunker Chronicles recently blogged about the most recent manifestation of petty leading to lethal crimes afflicting the metropolis. Personally, I think both administration and opposition candidates have been deafeningly silent on criminality not just in Metro Manila, but in most cities of the country. Cellphone snatching, holdups in public utility vehicles, etc. What can legislators do about this? Denounce it. And lest we forget, they have the power of confirmation over military and police officials who deserve to be raked over the coals for letting these crimes take place. And for those who speak glowingly of the administration, let me add that if you exalt impunity, politically, for the chief executive then of course it follows that everyone else down the line will be lining up to line up the public, in term, for a holdup.
See also, Amando Doronila’s analysis of the survey findings and what it means -he deftly ties it to the question of human rights. The Inquirer editorial, too, points out this is a case of chicken coming home to roost for the government. The best that government apologists can do is Emil Jurado’s report that Senator Enrile has vowed to get even and give the foreign businessmen a good grilling.
I understand the Management Association of the Philippines is due to release a statement in the next couple of days, supporting the survey of foreign businessmen which found the Philippines the most corrupt country in our region. Just last night I had a chance to sit down and listen to the views of some businessmen and a banker. I asked them, is it worse today than before? One answered by means of a joke. Corruption, in FVR’s time, he said, was “under the table.” In Estrada’s time, “over the table.” And today? “With the table.”
This points to an interesting dynamic. They pointed out that the best they can do is echo what the foreign businessmen say, because if they said it first their necks would be on the line. They don’t have the luxury of being so big, like the Taipans, as to be untouchable, one remarked with a shrug. If foreign businessmen hadn’t said, it wouldn’t mean it wasn’t so -only that no one wanted to take the risk of pointing out the obvious. I’ve heard more than one person say: you want proof corruption is bogging this country down? Look at the unopened NAIA-III. The present government has had more than enough time to fix that mess, even if its origins lay in Estrada’s administration.
On another note, the Chief Justice’s recent speech is all very nice, and much as I agree with what he said, is it proper for a chief justice to make such a statement?
Finally, Comelec decides to take down the voter’s list which published people’s private information on line. And speaking of privacy, here’s a legal precedent: the Manila Trial Court declares that the president’s husband is most definitely, a public figure, that he can’t go around suing people for libel when what’s taking place is public scrutiny of his actions, or on the basis of his right to privacy.