The battle lines are drawn, Mr. President


Judging by reports on last Saturday’s “people’s congress” in Cebu, and expectations about today’s Luneta rally, the “anti-pork” protest is alive and well.

The proposed P108 million per congressman for 2015, as against the P70 million they had been getting yearly before the Supreme Court voided the Priority Development Assistance Fund and the Disbursement Acceleration Program, shows Malacañang is not prepared to abandon its life of corruption and crime. This has certainly thrown a fresh fast-burning log into the fire.

But whether the Luneta rally will generate enough heat or steam is too early to tell.

One thing is clear, though. Despite Malacañang’s profound incompetence, it has succeeded in fragmenting the issues against President B. S. Aquino 3rd, while the protesters have failed to consolidate them. We ought to do better. We cannot allow one scandal to simply swallow another and leave PNoy daydreaming.

This is what has happened. The PDAF and the DAP have been pegged together as one issue. The move to redefine “savings”, another. The threat to lift the constitutional term limit to allow PNoy a second term, yet another. The threat to clip the High Court’s power of judicial review, still another. And the balloon, which Malacañang briefly floated, then withdrew, about “no election” in 2016 is but the latest.

On each of these issues, Aquino has been ridiculed and made the butt of the worst jokes in social media and elsewhere. But very few seem prepared to point out that the issue has gone far beyond the individual problems of the PDAF, or the DAP, or the threat to lift the term limit, or the threat to clip the powers of the highest court, or the threat to cancel the next elections. The problem is now simply B. S. Aquino 3rd and no other.

What has Aquino done to the country, and what should the country do in return? This is the real question now. We need not insult or make fun of our King George III, we need not even show contempt or anger. But we must see everything that is happening, say what needs to be said, and decide to do something now.

What do you see, first of all? This is what I see:

I see us standing at the crossroads of our nation’s history. We have traveled far and wide as a people in search of truth, freedom, justice, peace and democracy. Yet we now face a situation where our “leaders” have lost sight of the common good; where the distinction between right and wrong, between good and bad, between legal and illegal, between just and unjust, has been blurred; where moral conviction and religious belief have been emptied of their deepest meaning and public purpose; where government of the people, by the people, and for the people has become more and more of a mirage.

Our political and social institutions are in disarray. We are ruled by a rapacious oligarchy operating through a dysfunctional and despotic presidency, a predatory social and corporate elite, and unbridled and self-perpetuating political dynasties. Crime, corruption, plunder, political abuse, and invasion of fundamental human rights and liberties are unchecked, except when committed by the “wrong” parties.

What afflicts our politics afflicts our economy even more. Extreme poverty has been “nationalized,” that is to say, redistributed to become the nation’s common patrimony, while the bulk of the nation’s wealth has been “privatized,” by the oligarchy and for the oligarchy. Despite persistent claims of high economic growth, rising unemployment, inequality and social injustice define the daily existence of Filipinos, millions of whom are victims of long-festering conflicts, common curable diseases and natural calamities.

And while the poor waste away without the barest of life’s necessities– food, water, shelter, electricity, education, health care, and basic transport facilities–the less than one percent at the top of the pyramid owns, controls, and profits from everything. Unprotected from life’s adversities, the poor have become the most disposable of commodities. So many of them have lost the will and the power to resist injustice and fight for their basic rights and liberties.

Despite repeated avowals of providing the nation with honest, dedicated and incorrupt service, Aquino has callously corrupted Congress, destabilized and intimidated the Judiciary, taken over the treasury, misused the police, exploited the military, and promoted conflicts, factionalism and political enmity among our ethnic, tribal and other communities. He has effectively disavowed his oath of office, and become a danger to our people and our democratic and republican state.

Indeed, the battle lines have been drawn. And they have been drawn between the Constitution and the rule of law on the one hand and Aquino on the other; between Aquino and the Filipinos. Yet confrontation could still be avoided if we all, PNoy included, hark back to the principle that “sovereignty resides in the people and all government authority emanates from them.” Or as Mabini puts it, “the people is all, all is the people.”

More important than who should replace or succeed Aquino, which has now set off a runaway train of premature presidential campaigners, is the question of what should be done to restore our damaged Constitution and political institutions before we start talking of another election.

The restoration of these institutions, beginning with our prostituted electoral system, should be a conditio sine qua non for the holding of such elections. Aquino must now step down, not to be succeeded by a clone who will just carry on with “business as usual.” He must now step down to allow a purely transitional and non-partisan citizens’ group, representing or at least vetted by the various institutions, to fix the system. Thereafter everyone interested could join the competition without fear of being trashed by a political or corporate syndicate in control of the rigged precinct count optical scan machines.

This would need a period of transition precisely to give our people some breathing space and allow the fixing of the system. We therefore need to seriously and urgently consider not holding the 2016 presidential election, but with Aquino and his cohorts and sycophants out, rather than in.


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  1. Makulot-of-Cuenca.Batangas on

    To Mr. Adrew Lim,

    Just stopping by this forum, read your comment addressed to Kit Tatad, between B.S. Aquino & F. Marcos Jr., I rather bet my last cent to Bongbong over Pnoy.

    It’s not a no-brainer that comparing the two, Bongbong performed better than Pnoy as congressman/governor & senator. It’s just so happened that President Marcos became a dictator and Pnoy is acting like the same and his (Pnoy’s) direction of future governance if he get the chance for another term will be same as F.E. Marcos and could be worst. How About that?

    (I’m college student of the yr 1975 @UST & from Batangas, & i can compare the reign of the Aquinos (mother/son even though I supported Cory then) and Marcos presidency. It’s just like apple & calamansi.

  2. Thanks for an eye opening article. However, your suggestion about a transitional stage will not happen since PNoy has to step down or mandate by the government to suspend an election. PNOY is intoxicated with power, plus he is afraid of jail terms and substantial monetary fines.

    How can your suggestion materialize?

  3. Abbey Canturias on

    You and I breath no air of relief in this nation, where a rapacious oligarchy muscles the politico-economic system through a despotic presidency, and where the social and corporate elite are viewed as predators prey on the poor and uneducated farmers and workers. I was in Cebu City when the people’s congress against the pork barrel system was convened; there I saw the first spark of a new revolution shaped by left, right, and centrist forces; it’s about to explode.

  4. Very good article by Mr Kit Tatad. You haven’t lost your writing flair sir.
    Finally your article has summarized what is wrong with our nation
    and what needs to be done to correct it.

  5. Before we even talk and allow a purely transitional and non-partisan citizens’ group, we should give the People’s Initiative a chance to succeed. We cannot spread ourselves thinly or do too many things at the same time as we will not be able to accomplish anything worthwhile. Let’s keep this as option B (if option A fails).

  6. Now we’re all going to find out whose got more supporters Pres. Aquino’s Tuwid na Daan or his critics and opponents who wants to stay.the crook old ways. SHOWDOWN TIME.

  7. “He must now step down to allow a purely transitional and non-partisan citizens’ group, representing or at least vetted by the various institutions, to fix the system” – exactly what I suggested in one of my commentaries. This non partisan group should be vouched by the different groups, as morally good, unbiased, and open minded who can see through the lies and the manipulations. They should be a fearless group but should be also protected by the country so we can see an actual change. A little step at a time, one small step and we will move forward. Thank you Mr Tatad.

  8. pang bueno mano sir, but i hope disqus would be added to the site for easy comments and reactions.

  9. Mr. Tatad, for me you correctly said that the nation’s wealth is privatized by the oligarchy. Destroying the oligarchy’s hold on the Philippine society is indeed a big challenge given the fact that our electoral system is being held hostage by the power and influence of the oligarchy. The hopelessly gullible citizenry can easily be influenced by the oligarchy’s machination through their client survey outfits and their owned mainstream media (TV and broadsheets).

  10. 225aug14

    so the marcos’ technocrats are out on the prowl again…well, as we all said, the third time is always a charm. bong2 resurrect his clan mouthpiece ..

  11. Tatad, how about writing also what you ‘see’ about Binay’s future dynasty and possible worst corruption (if he wins the presidency)… which may worse than the present Pnoy Admin…

  12. I totally agree with you, that with the battle lines drawn, we cannot continue to operate under the corrupt combination of a president who seem “lost” but every bit capable with doing more harm than good, and a Congress that has accepted bribes too often and displayed its penchant for more of the same.
    We need a transition government that will give a break from what we have right now, so that highly qualified men and women, with solid reputation and honesty, can fix the system, or even introduce another system of government. What that next government should be, must be defined in that transition period.

  13. Eduardo Topico on

    Look who is talking… This is a man who should not even utter the word “Democracy”, makes people really sick… have you repented of your sins to the Filipino people , those who have suffered and are continuously suffering…

  14. FIRST…….we need the mass execution in Luneta of all members of Congress,Senate and the Executive Branch ……..and the transition period that you suggested.

    As you have said : FIRST THINGS FIRST !

  15. A very powerful article by Sec. Tatad. Welcome to The Manila Times, sir and congratulations to the Times for beefing up its role of excellent columnists. Although The Manila Standard lost an excellent opinion writer it should not worry because for sure folks who read The Manila Times also read The Manila Standard, both excellent avenues of fair and unfiltered subject matters.

  16. Mahirap sa maraming edukado tao minsan hindi nila matukoy kung ano ang tama at mali!
    Kaya minsan nasasayang ang ginagawa nilang pagmamalasakit!
    Una,ano ba ang tama ang pdaf ba, pork ng mambabatas o ang humahawak ng pdaf? Parang bang ano ang masama ang baril ba o ang taong bumaril?
    Kung alam natin ang tamang kasagutan mapapabuti ang desisyon ng lahat!,hindi yung basta nalang isigaw ng sugod na hindi naman sigurado kung ito nga ang sulution sa problema!!
    Baka pueding ipapasa muna natin ang foi!! At ito ang sama-sama nating isigaw at isugod sa labas siguradong maraming makikiisa at ito ay hindi pang politika!!kalampagin ninyo si Aquino sa pangako niya sa transparent na pamamalakad ng gobyerno! Ang sinungaling na ladas!!at walang kahihiyan mga mambabatas!!

  17. Dear Kit, thank you for sharing your “First thing first” column with MT; thanks to the MT’s generosity in allowing you to help broaden its sphere of truthful, timely and relevant information to our people. SHARING, we all know, is how God manifests his love for all of humanity and of his entire creation. Your maiden piece “Drawing the Line” is truly most timely indeed and it would suit up with the biblical incident on King David’s order to carry out a CENSUS in his kingdom. Please, comment on the consequences of such an action on the part of the King. How it fits as gloves in Pnoy’s hands, isn’ it? May I request you to please comment, as you alone knows how: the consequences and the three corrective ways the King has to choose from. Thank you very much, Kit.

  18. Dominador D. Canastra on

    Manila Times has again become the No. 1 Philippine newspaper with the arrival of Francisco S. Tatad’s First Things First column.

  19. Benjamin F. Cardinez, Esq. on

    You cannot mouth protest slogans like “scrap pork” and “abolish pork barrel” without advocating the impeachment and removal of BS Aquino. He is the single authority in the entire government who has the exclusive personal power to stop the use, misuse and abuse of taxpayers’ funds in disregard of constitutional limitations.

    But he did not do so. Instead, the president shows his defiance by publicly denouncing the Supreme Court’s near unanimous ruling, even making veiled threats of investigation and audit of the Judicial Development Fund through his known lapdogs in Congress. In addition, he is seeking a re-definition of the word “savings” by legislative fiat to enable him to continue dispensing pork to whoever he wants.

  20. the country needs a quick transition before it’s too late. there should be no more old faces in our political system, the three branches. lay down hacienda luisita to the farmers and sequester the ill-gotten wealth hidden in it. those two are the ones they’re fighting for. and jail them all.

  21. I was not a fan of Former Senator Tatad before because of his previous links to Marcos regime. However, I believe That Mr. Tatad is now a different man. He has now exhibits a good vision for our country. Like his wish that our nation needs a system change just so we could move forward through progress by eliminating our societies’ cancers like these bad political dynasties, pork barrel system and those oligarchs whose purpose only is to amass profits and corner almost all the wealth of this country.

    • It is not just his links to the Marcos regime; it is his unflagging defense of the Marcos regime and its excesses. He has not changed his position on that. Unless that happens, all that he says is suspect.

      And juxtapose that with his strident defense and proud display of Catholic doctrine. How in the world do you reconcile those two things?

  22. Your suggestion is a breath of fresh air in a country where a great number are lying prostrate in poverty because of the corruption and plunder of a dictatorial non-president shamelessly proclaiming himself as the gift of God to our country. We are for the stepping down of the Abnoy and his cohorts and the dissolution of the 2 houses of Congress. But we need more details on this “purely transitional and non-partisan citizens’ group, representing or at least vetted by the various institutions, to fix the system”, that will take over.

    We realize that while it is not impossible, it is rather difficult to find those”few good men” that the bible speaks about who can guide our country in the transition. Also, who will select those few good men? I’m willing to bet even those few good men are also lined with self-interest inside. And this feature in your proposal might be its Achilles heel.

    • egis totheend on

      I wonder why when the system has now been fixed as controversies and anomalies are easier now to detect, we still cry wolf. But that’s exactly how it is in a democracy where there’s continuous struggle not only between the ruling elites but with those in the regular media which is an important feature in a democracy, and with the advance tech., those in the sidelines as well are well able to also participate in these struggles through the social media. I believe those in the country side, the barbers, the drivers (taxi, bus, jeepney,tricycle, padyak), coffee shops regulars, also do tussle them out with one another freely whatever issues they could derive from the day to day happening. This is democracy in full swing. I admire MR. Tatad a lot, yes. BUt i was wondering why every time he’s in the service as a gov’t official, his Boss always gets kicked out. Marcos was the first. Then, MR. Tatad was serving as Sec. then MInister of INFormation. When he was serving as a Senator, he’s one among those who painstakingly were actually defending Erap (he even debated with Joker) during the very first impeachment of a president and which we all know had miserably failed. BUt Erap was eventually booted out of his office. MR. Tatad’s reelection bid since then, repeatedly, was a failure. This might be, ironically, one of the reasons why he’s advocating to cut P-NOy’s term now.