Originally posted at the Philippine Online Chronicles/Blog Watch
The recent turn of events in Philippine politics is making us rethink our perception of “bad Pinoy mentality.” After all, it’s this “bad” mentality that’s dragging the skeletons out of the closet of Philippine politics. It won’t be long before everything gets unraveled because of these bad Pinoy habits.
Greed and the Expected Fallout
It all started with Benhur Luy’s revelations as exposed by the Philippine Daily Inquirer. The now-famous ex-conspirator of Napoles has run out of options that he had to rely on the government to protect him from his former PDAF heist boss. He was detained and threatened by Napoles. Of course, if his relationship with The Janet Lim Napoles remained advantageous, nothing would have come out. He was driven to a corner and he had to reveal everything in public to secure himself and his family.
It is a rarity for Pinoys dealing with huge amounts of easy money to not bicker. Napoles, reportedly, couldn’t accept how Luy was allegedly doing his own transactions and planning to set up his own PDAF milking operations. Thankfully, Napoles was not “generous” enough to allow Luy his spinoff PDAF business. Thankfully, Benhur was not satisfied with just being someone’s accomplice. Nobody was willing to give way and compromise. Thankfully.
As they fell apart, the pieces of the PDAF scam saga started falling into place…
Showing off, Social Climbing
After the Philippine Daily Inquirer exposé, Jeane Napoles, daughter of the dubbed PDAF scam queen Janet Napoles, “graced” the news as she was braggingall her fortunes. She deserves some bit of gratitude for stirring public outrage and bringing more attention to the issue. Social climber tendencies do have benefits.
Similarly, thanks to the social climbing Napoleses, they did not fail to have their photos and videostaken as they mingled and partied with senators, congressmen, and even with the President. They furnished the credible tools to invalidate the denials of the politicians implicated in the PDAF scam.
And COA came forward. In an unexpected move, the Commission on Audit finally takes a stand against top public officials of the country. After decades of silence, COA is in the action, seemingly banking on the public outrage and surefire empathy-winning revelations particularly linking senators Enrile, Estrada, and Revilla in the PDAF scandal. Yes, after several long years or at least 3 years since the incumbency of the “tuwid na daan” president, COA has finally joined the fray. Perfect timing!
And of course, senators also want their share of fame. “In aid of legislation” and Blue Ribbon Committee investigations were planned. Never a bad thing publicizing their own ilk’s crimes. The country can tolerate the grandstanding if it means significant strides in crippling systemic corruption.
It’s good to know that the accused senators felt the pinch. Admitting that they have been affected by the turn of events, the senators, one by one, scheduled their privilege speeches. Senator Enrile attacked Senator Miriam’s mental health. Of course, the feisty Miriam made sure to respond more scathingly, with more foam in the mouth. Senator Bong Revilla denied the accusations against him while taking a toy truck as props and assailing President Aquino’s “tuwid na daan” campaign. Senator Jinggoy Estrada, on the other hand, implied his inclination to drag everyoneinvolved to where the case would take him.
Damay Damay Na
Filipinos are known for crab mentality or the irrational need to prevent others from succeeding; but Filipinos also practice a similar mentality, “damay damay na,” when the need arises. This means bringing comrades or companions down with you as you suffer an apparently inescapable dire predicament.
In his privilege speech and in several media interviews, Senator Estrada had an implied concession of the indefensibility of his misgivings (crimes). Instead of vehemently denying his involvement in the PDAF malversation, he recalled the alleged bribery during the Corona impeachment trial. He highlighted how everyone is also doing what he has been accused of doing.
His speech was hyped to be one that would drop the bomb. It was a dud but it managed to help bring to light the bigger problems of fund abuse in government. The President himself may not be that clean, after all.
Recently, the ex-convict senator even cryptically said that he also shared the food(new PDAF scam witness) Ruby Tuason brought to him with other senators. He said: “The food that she gave me, she delivered to me, I also shared it with some senators because she brought trays full of snacks.”
Kanya Kanya, Saving One’s Own Skin
Senator Estrada claimed that the allegations of the older Estrada’s former aide were lacking in evidence and only aimed at self-redemption. The senator said that Ruby Tuason was only out “to save her neck, skin and her properties.” He’s right on point in saying that Tuason only wants to save herself. Nobody really believes that Tuason came out voluntarily. She has her monsters to deal with and she’s admitted it on her interviews.
Just like the other witnesses, Tuason wouldn’t have come out without the threats and inconveniences. She offered to return $40 millionin exchange of becoming state witness and getting immunity from suit in relation to the PDAF case. What other proofs do you need to say that she really wants to save her own neck? It’s a definitely a better option than hiding and getting hounded by her crimes.
As Tuason tries to save herself, she is helping uncover the country’s biggest syndicate. That’s not really a bad consequence of a “bad” mentality. You can try saving your own skin and letting something desirable happen as a side effect.
Also worth noting is the hypocrisy of many political figures involved in the PDAF saga. While Senator Miriam might be doing the public a favor by venting her anger on Enrile and the other accused senators, she has been quite a hypocrite. So where’s the “innocent until proven guilty” principle now? She defended having defended the Estradas, Arroyos, as well as former Chief Justice Corona because she claimed that she was just following the laws of the land. Now, however, she has been busy ignoring legal principles in order to pin down Enrile, Estrada, and Revilla in the court of public opinion.
The lady senator’s hypocrisy and biases are overflowing but need we complain? She’s doing a fine job bringing us closer to the truth of the PDAF scandal. She’s providing the noise and theatrics. She’s saying what many Filipinos have been wanting to say against corrupt officials. Maybe she’ll have her own time to answer for all her inconsistencies and hypocrisies. For now, she’s not being badly technical at the expense of justice.
Bonus: Excessive Family-Centeredness
Filipinos are just extremely family-centered. It’s not uncommon to find families with adult children and their families living under the same roof. Thanks to this mentality, it has become a little easier to pinpoint the people we want to pinpoint. It makes it easy to know who is Anak and who is Inay. Closely-knit families that do business together will quickly defend each other but may not easily escape incrimination by association. Also, this setup is easier compared to tagging someone “sexy” when that someone does not really deserve the adjective.
Hopefully, ningas cogon won’t spoil all the gains we have achieved in our goal of cleaning the government. It’s good to see bad habits or mentalities ruining the bad folks. However, we’d prefer seeing good habits and mindsets beating the bad ones and finally bringing the ideal political and social landscape for the country.
Screencap from GMA 7. Some rights reserved.