Catharsis: Tragicomedy of Philippine democracy

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A tragicomedy of Aristotelian proportions is unfolding in Asia’s first Republic—the Philippines.

It is inexorably rising from the wreckage and stress of the multi-billion pork barrel scandal and Janet Napoles scam that has transfixed this nation of 100 million for nearly a year. It will play out, over the next few months until it reaches resolution.

With my colleague Rigoberto Tiglao’s explosive report and column yesterday (“Smoking gun of Aquino’s complicity in Pork Barrel Scam,” Times, June 9), President BS. Aquino now faces a time of questioning, perhaps even a crisis of survival. The righteous leader who aspired to be the scourge of corrupt public officials has himself landed at the center of a graft controversy, accused like Richard Nixon of covering up high crimes against the nation.

Day of accountability
On Thursday, the 116th anniversary of Philippine Independence, The Abolish Pork Movement and a host of other civil society organizations are leading a citizens movement to transform the independence commemoration into a Day of Accountability.


The rally organizers are calling on Filipinos to gather at Liwasang Bonifacio and then march to Mendiola to demand accountability for the pork barrel scam. The rally will demand the resignations of presidential alter-egos Budget Secretary Florencio “Butch” Abad and Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala, who are both directly implicated in PDAF and DAP misuse, and it will hold President BS Aquino accountable for the continuing cover-up of the scam

In a stirring editorial, the normally non-committal and pro-government Manila Bulletin threw its weight behind the accountability rally. It said:

“The #AbolishPork Movement speaks to us and for us when it says: ‘As taxpayers who have been robbed many times over, we hold Aquino accountable for his failure to seriously prosecute and bring to justice those involved in the pork barrel scam.

“Join the June 12 Rally for Accountability. In so doing, we honor our martyrs and heroes who fought to free our country from colonial rule and contribute our meager share to free the same country from pork barrel corruption and from empty slogans like ‘Daang Matuwid’.”

This is act one of the drama —the increasing radicalization of the nation as a result of the official theft and abuse of the pork barrel.

Impeach Aquino picks up steam
Act two will unfold with the mounting of a serious initiative to impeach President Aquino, through the gathering of support from members of the House of Representatives, and the gathering of citizens’ signatures endorsing Aquino’s impeachment.

There will be a major test of wills between Aquino’s control of the House (as personified by Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr and the Liberal Party) and the growing ranks of opposition and independent-minded legislators who are dismayed by the shaming of the House in the pork barrel scam and who want the House to assert its powers and prerogatives in the face of continuing domination by the Executive branch.

Legal experts believe that a credible impeachment complaint (with a real chance of gaining House support) can definitely be filed now and prosecuted successfully against President Aquino on the strength of the disclosures and admissions already made by all 20 senators concerning the P50-million payoff allegedly offered for Corona’s conviction, the testimony of DBM officials that Aquino signed and approved all disbursements from the DAP fund. Once the money trail is traced, it will all lead to Malacanang. Congress did not appropriate any funds for presidential bribery. Abad will stand trial for plunder of the treasury.

Although BS Aquino has nominal control of the lower house, which has the exclusive power to initiate impeachment, he cannot count on the House refusing to impeach. The threshold of one-third of House members will be reached, once a public campaign for impeachment is mounted, and once the new revelations about Aquino’s complicity in the scam is factored in. Once church groups, soldiers, government workers, farmers and other groups join the clamor for impeachment, there will be no turning back the tide. Even Speaker Belmonte will bow to the clamor. Politicians, anxious for survival, will line up to sign the articles of impeachment.

Supreme Court strikes down DAP

Act three will comprise the decision of the Supreme Court on the constitutionality of the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP), and its repercussions on the impeachment initiative.

I believe the High Court will rule, as many have prayed, that the DAP is unconstitutional, thereby pulling the rug from under Aquino’s feet. There are wild rumors on the eve of the vote that a last-minute full-court press by Aquino’s operatives has succeeded in reversing one vote to achieve a 7-7 no-decision verdict. But the growing public outrage and mobilization of sectors for accountability are too much for the High Court to dare enraging the people and risk bringing down retribution on itself.

The vote of the lower House will decisively tilt toward impeachment once the Supreme Court rules that the DAP is unconstitutional.

The central role of the administration in the pork barrel scandal will be officially acknowledged. Legislators who had no dealings with Napoles will vote to impeach. They will remind the public that they belong to the 16th Congress, newly elected last year, and not to the 15th Congress, which was hopelessly corrupted by Napoles. Legislators who were complicit in the Napoles scam will vote to impeach in order to save themselves.

In the impeachment articles, the House will say that it is impeaching President BS Aquino III for culpable violation of the Constitution, bribery, graft and corruption, and betrayal of public trust.

The House will vote to impeach because this is its ticket to relevance in the emerging political landscape in the country. Because of poor leadership, it is not listened to anymore on any issue of importance.

Aquino stands trial in the Senate
As with former chief Justice Corona, whose impeachment President Aquino singlemindedly orchestrated, he will immediately face trial in the Senate, once the House votes to impeach.

Act IV will unfold with President Aquino’s impeachment trial in the Senate. Chief Justice Lourdes Sereno, an Aquino appointee, will preside over the trial. It is probable that Franklin Drilon will no longer be Senate President by then. No senator will decline to sit as a juror in Aquino’s trial; refusal will be interpreted by the public as motivated by a lack of monetary incentives, unlike the Corona trial when incentives were plenty.

The House prosecutors who will present the case against the president will strive to show the glaring contradictions in Aquino’s Tuwid na Daan program, the contrast between his professed anti-corruption campaign and the realities of corruption under his watch, the proof of closeness between the president and Napoles,

The biggest threat to Aquino is the possibility that Napoles may be offered incentives to testify against him. That would be totally outside his control.

The tragic side of this tragicomedy inheres in the fact that the personage on the dock is the most righteous president the country has ever known, the advocate of the straight path, and he will be standing trial for high crimes against the nation.

The comic side of the drama is that the principal crime which Aquino will be accused of is his having bribed the senator-judges in the impeachment of justice Corona. Absurdly, the senators who accepted bribes and payoffs from him, will be sitting in judgment of Aquino for a crime in which they were complicit.

An indignant public will demand that senators who were bribed in the Corona trial should not sit as judges in the Aquino impeachment. Alan Peter Cayetano will argue for his right to sit as a juror in the new trial. He will be shouted down and ridiculed.

Just as there was much comedy in the Corona trial, there will also be many comic touches in Aquino’s trial, such as the lawyers who will volunteer to prosecute Aquino, the witnesses who will volunteer testimony on the character and sanity of Aquino. If Janet Lim-Napoles testifies, Aquino and most senator-jurors will be petrified with fear about the dirty laundry she might disclose.

Before the trial is over, the administration will be deluged with resignations, led by the Hyatt 10 who hounded President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and were reincarnated by BS Aquino. When the going gets tough, they usually get going. They are also the first to apply for posts in the next administration.

Catharsis and crisis of survival
The tragicomedy will be a form of catharsis for the Filipino nation and Philippine democracy. It will simultaneously be a great trial of our political system, and a purgation for our democracy, a cleansing of the system of demons and worms that have caused it to falter and fail.

This great drama will lead to the sweeping reform of institutions, the revision of the 1987 constitution, and a change of political culture in the country – which are all essential for the nation to move forward

With this catharsis, citizens will become more aware of their sovereign power over the government. Politicians will waken to the real responsibilities of public office. Our elections, which have been irresponsibly administered by the Commission on Elections, will finally be better organized and managed.

How will president aquino’s crisis of survival end?

There are three possible scenarios.

The Senate votes to convict.
Aquino is stripped of all the powers
And trappings of office.
He rides off into the sunset.

The Senate acquits him.
Aquino remains as chief of state
And head of government of
The Republic.

Aquino resigns and spares himself
The ordeal of an impeachment trial.

If either scenario 1 or 3 happens,
There will be a new president of the republic.

Yen makabenta@yahoo.com

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12 Comments

  1. Talagang BS Aquino nga…Salamat Sir Macabenta and sir Tiglao for your well-thought out articles. Pork barrel sounds too nice for talagang greedy BABOYS…you and they know who those are…..May God and our Blessed Mama Mary not get tired of straightening our beloved Philippines . Fight and die for what is right Filipinos….Can not help sharing what one Filipino said , ( as we were roasting a lechon for our 50th wedding anniversary picnic celebration last month.)….the pig must be saying , ” The Filipinos are worth dying for….”

  2. SALVACION CAHAYAG on

    These scenarios as presented are only wishful thinking. Impeachment is a numbers
    game. Remember, these members of congress also partook of the loot too. So, what
    can we expect. Of course, they will not bite the hand that feed them. This administration is the worst. No previous administration was as corrupt as this.
    Masyadong garapal. In politics, it is just a matter of selecting the better of two
    evils. This administration is by far the worst of al evils. It is too vindictive, corrupt,
    selective, and a master of double standard .All these corrupt officials (members
    of congress, cabinet members, etc.) if found guilty should all go to jail regardless
    as to whether oppositions, allies of the administration or whoever. This president
    should not coddle his allies if he really is after daang matuwid. This president shall
    not only protect the law but should practice fairness at all times. He simply cannot
    was his hands for what his subordinates has done. It is COMMAND RESPONSIBILITY. Remember the Clean Hands Doctrine. If you go to court,
    be sure that you go to court with CLEAN HANDS.

  3. Ricardo Penson on

    Let the chips fall where it may, let the people vent their anger and frustration to conclusion. We may never see the options exercised, the people of the Philippines are now impatient and may demand a total cleansing of our system starting with the suspension of the constitution, abolishing the current government and establishing a true revolutionary government of the people, for the people and by the people. This is the only remaining hope for change.
    Mabuhay ang mga bagong Pilipino!

  4. jose hernani m. parco on

    scenario 1 or 3 is a dilemma, a choice between two alternatives equally undesirable!
    scenario 2, sucks!

  5. My concern about the scenario 1 or 3 is w will have binay as president by operation of law and it will be as bad or worse. I don’t like scenario 2 either so I am at a loss what to pray for.

  6. Jude Trinidad on

    This is a wishful scenario of what must transpire from the current Pork Barrel quagmire that the country has gotten itself into. However, given the generally IQ-challenged inhabitants this benighted country unfortunately hosts that, in the first place, is clearly responsible for these type of “celebrity” politicians to habitually win elections after elections, I doubt if this political rumbling can muster a sizeable army of people to initiate any logical resolution to the crisis.

  7. what is it with our policorrupt government officials – re: Enrile, Estrada, and Remullia? Laughing, smiling when they were sentenced to prison??? They are saying screw you Filipinos — we can do whatever we want to enrich ourselves and you cannot do anything about it. They should be incarcerated in the national bilibid prison!

  8. Sana lahat ng mamamayang pilipino ay wag palampasin ang pagkakataon ito,para tuluyan malinis ang ating gobyerno,sama po kayong lahat sa June 12,alisin natin lahat ang magnanakaw at sinungaling sa gobyerno,lahat tayo ay makikinabang dito ano mang ang kulay mo!!minsan lang to mangyayari wag nating palampasin,ang kalaban natin dito ay mga lumustay ng pera ng bayan!!

    • Tama Marcospolo! Nuon pre-EDSA I, sumasasali ako lagi sa rally sa Makati. Dito ko madalas makita sila Cory, Butch Aquino, Binay, Lina, Tanada, Saguisag, etc., sumisigaw na ” Ibagsak ang Marcos Conjugal Dictatorship at Dynasty “. Matapos ang EDSA I, at itong karamihan sa mga sumisigaw ay sila MISMO ang nagtayo ng kanikanilang Dynasties at Nepotismo ng mga Kamag-Abad, Inc.. Tama din ang sinabi ni late Jaime Cardinal Sin ” Kinulong natin si Ali Baba pero pinakawalan natin yuon 40 Thieves “, Ngayon nasa LEGISLATHIEVES, EXECUTHIEVES AT JUDICIATHIEVES at NANGANGANAK PA.
      Panahon na upang atin muli tangalin ang gobierno at buwaginang magtatag ng Bagong Constitution. Sumali at makibaka sa June 12, alang alang sa mga apo natin at Bayan, sa Araw ng Kalayaan, upang magkaroon tayo ng bagong Pilipinas Walang Dynasties, Walang Nepotismo, Walang Kamag-Abad Inc., at Walang mga Dating Pulitiko, lahat Bagon Pilipino.

  9. Yen, Bravo again. You are almost acted like a Prophet.

    The Supreme Court I also believe will decide the DAP as unconstitutional. After they decided the PDAF unconstitutional the more DAP will be.

    Is it a blessing in disguise that the Scam on the Pork Barrel went out? I can see also on what you said. I hope those who are leading the citizen in bringing the truth and are chasing those that are involved in the Pork Barrel Scam will be successful in their struggle for the nation.

  10. Alejo Rosete on

    “I bet $ to Donut” – scenario # 3 is the option the President will choose.

    A “President Nixon scenario”. But before he resigns, he will talk to Vice President Binay
    to pardon him. If this happens, President Binay is courting trouble/disaster for himself. Aquino will not join Gloria at the veterans Memorial Hospital. If Aquino choose to join Gloria at the Veterans, Gloria will be smilingly say to BS Aquino – “welcome student”.
    But remember Vice President Binay is President Cory’s man.

    President Aquino wants “House arrest at hacienda Luisita”. If this happens – he is not safe with the sakadas (“Ikaw Lamang” tele novela of Coco Martin).

    Scenario #3 is the cheapest/easiest for the country and its people to bear.