The end of a myth

24

To say that President B. S. Aquino 3rd’s “isolation is now complete,” as my friend and colleague Yen Makabenta says in an earlier piece on this page, may be an overstatement, but The New York Times August 28, 2014 editorial on “Political Mischief in the Philippines” marks a significant shift in the coverage of the Philippines by the world press.

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The Times, arguably the world’s most powerful newspaper, has apparently decided to take the lead. We should welcome it.

Crimes, and high crimes at that, (not simple mischief), with serious implications to our moral, spiritual and democratic existence, have been committed by the Philippine head of state. But none of these have merited any attention from the normally alert and eagle-eyed American press. None of the learned American journals, academics or public intellectuals appear to have noticed either.

The last major article on the Philippines in a distinguished journal was probably “The Philippines without Democracy,” by my good friend Peter Kann, former publisher of the US Wall Street Journal, which appeared in Foreign Affairs, the quarterly journal of the Eastern establishment, in 1974. That was 40 years ago. Now, exactly the same thing could be said: the oldest Asian democracy has been hijacked by a petty tyrant.

A review of the state of democracy in the world by Samantha Power, the US ambassador to the United Nations, in a commencement address at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government last June glanced through the various problems facing the emerging democracies, many of them children of the Arab Spring. But not a word was said on the rape of democracy in the Philippines.

The Times editorial is the first notable article in the Western press to suggest that not all is well in the Philippines. But it does not look at the problem extensively or deeply enough.

The Times laments, as many others do, Aquino’s threat to seek two constitutional amendments through Congress, first to allow him a second term, and second, to clip the powers of the Supreme Court, for having declared his multi-billion peso Disbursement Acceleration Program null and void.

These ideas are widely opposed, and Aquino knows it. So one day before the Times editorial came out, and one day after the National Transformation Council called for his “immediate resignation” in its August 27 Lipa Declaration, Aquino announced he would no longer push for a second term.

But he said nothing about his wanting to clip the powers of the High Court. And one political sidekick–Congressman Edgar Erice of Kalookan–while traveling with him in Mindoro and speaking to the press within Aquino’s hearing, said he would push the second-term proposal anyway. This drew no adverse reaction from the President.

We cannot therefore write off the threat just yet. For although Aquino has done very little to deserve his current term, and he has already weakened the High Court beyond any further weakening, Aquino could easily railroad the amendments, should he decide to do so, just because he could still bribe the completely bribable Congress and manipulate the country’s prostituted automated voting system.

But Aquino’s crimes are not only in the making. Many have already been consummated, and amending the Constitution for his own ends will merely add to them. The actual bribery of Congress in order to impeach and remove Supreme Court Chief Justice Renato Corona and to railroad the widely opposed Reproductive Health Law, the prostitution of the automated voting system, and the untold misuse of billions of pesos of unconstitutional DAP funds are but the most outrageous of his unpunished crimes.

No Filipino president has done anything similar. These have allowed Aquino to control Congress and to subtly threaten every SC justice with impeachment and removal, like Corona, if they fall out of line. So they have tried to toe the line.

This is obvious in their ruling on the Reproductive Health Law, which declared as “not unconstitutional” (except for a few truly execrable provisions) what is wholly and patently unconstitutional, and on the Priority Development Assistance Fund, which outlawed the “pork barrel” for lawmakers, but not the far more massive presidential pork barrel.

In the case of the DAP, however, the Justices had no choice but to rule as they did, declaring it unconstitutional, 13-0, for their own self-preservation and self-respect. As men and women of the law, they had to show that even under the shadow of an overbearing president, they could still say no when the only answer was no, and call white what everyone else knew was white, and black what everyone else knew was black.

But Aquino obviously wants a servile Court, as servile to him as he is to his foreign masters. Thus the threat to turn it into an unabashed rubber stamp. It is a credit to Chief Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno, Aquino’s own appointee, and the rest of the Court that they have decided to stand their ground.

What we have in the country today is an emerging dictatorship that has seized all levers of power, without declaring a state of emergency, in order to hijack the tripartite system of government and invade even the private lives of citizens. Aquino exercises the presidency without any sense of its constitutional limits, least of all the doctrine of separation of powers and checks and balances, and the inviolable separation of Church and State.

For their part, the big external powers and the big liberal press which have long tried to hold to account every miscreant leader who defied the prescribed norms anytime anywhere in the world have simply decided to let everything pass. The foreign press has failed to cover Aquino with the same zeal and vigilance with which they had covered Marcos.

Last February, Aquino used a NY Times interview to call on the international community to support his government in its conflict with China, which he accused of acting like Nazi Germany before the annexation of Sudetenland in 1938. From that interview, Times reporter Keith Bradsher volunteered the monumental nonsense that “in his nearly four years as president, Mr. Aquino, 53, has exceeded expectations in his country and the region for what he would be able to accomplish in a nation once known as ‘the sick man of Asia’.”

But the world’s greatest newspaper of record never sought from PNoy the kind of in-depth interview which NYT executive editor A. M. Rosenthal, foreign editor Warren Hoge, and Times correspondent Seth Mydans had with his late mother Cory on Dec. 15, 1985 before she became president. From that interview, the NY Times team came out with a profound reading of Cory Aquino’s capability, which Rosenthal personally transmitted to US Secretary of George Shultz in a private meeting, and to President Ronald Reagan, Nancy Reagan, and Chief of Staff Don Regan during a dinner at the White House.

“That empty-headed woman has no positions. She is a dazed and vacant woman,” Shultz quotes Rosenthal as saying, in the former’s memoirs, Turmoil and Triumph.

But Michael H. Armacost, who had been US ambassador to the Philippines from 1982 to 1984, told Reagan after Rosenthal had left the room, says Shultz, that the Makati businessmen were advising Cory, and that they were “sound.” Obviously Armacost had an inflated view of the Makati Business Club and never expected that Cory’s first immortal words in office would be, “I hate unsolicited advice.”

Before the 2010 elections, TIME magazine put out a cover story that polished off PNoy as some kind of political “savior”without any hint of his slightest qualification for the highest office. That signaled to the rest of the world, rightly or wrongly, that he was the “American candidate.” And through Smartmatic’s precinct count optical scan machines he was quickly machine-elected.

But not even TIME has cared to revisit the myth it has created, if only to tell its readers that the myth has totally disintegrated and the Western project has collapsed. Hopefully, after today, the world press—from Australia to Japan to Canada, to Latin America, to the Middle East, to Europe, to all of Africa, to the rest of Asia and the US–will try to catch up and correct its terrible omissions and mistakes.

fstatad@gmail.com

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24 Comments

  1. The pilipinos are victims of their own foolishness though i am a pilipino am also affected. Where can you find in this world of ours that after winning the election and seated in his office formulate ways in how to make money to cover the cost of his election. Accept bribe gathers more money for himself and make preparations for the next election. That’s only in the Philippines so more fun in the Philippines. There’s a league, associations, gangs of official of the same party or coalitions to make plans for their advantage, participate impeachments closing their eyes to vote for the promise millions. It’s only in the Philippines. What’s next? Politicians please think of the pilipinos now very poor and deprived, look at them, let them live in the proper way, the conditions now of our country made them criminals to survive. As government officials, it is your responsibilty.

  2. Roldan Guerrero on

    Until now I dont find any reason WHY and HOW BSA emerged to the Presidency from nothing! I must arrive to a conclusion that the 2010 presidential elections was rigged having in mind that Filipinos are not as STUPID as BSA to vote for him. As a result, we now have the UGLIEST, LEAST PERFORMER and THE MOST CORRUPT, a perfect opposite of what he promised.

  3. >>> this coming Philippine Election 2016, Filipino people should look and find an appropriate candidate(s) that could give respect and defend the Constitution and the Country itself the Philippines. MUST NOT FOLLOW AND USED ” TUWID NA DAAN” ( Straight Path), instead they should have the ” TAMANG DAAN” (THE CORRECT or RIGHT DIRECTION).

  4. I think the question is ” Why do we allow TYRANTS to rule us, whether they are PETTY (PNoy) or NOT (Marcos) ?

  5. 6 more years P-NOY the most hardworking and honest President the PH ever have.matuwid na daan is working,crook politicians are in jail,VP Binay next the biggest fish,the motherlobe of crooks.

    • veronica castro on

      Yes,I agree the most honest hardworking. What have you done Mr. Tatad during the martial law years. Telll us.

  6. This is just simply like fanning a small fire to make it big which is the kind of work media is unquestionably very good at doing. Mr. Tatad has been in that all his entire life. That was one and the main reason Marcos took him to head the Ministry of (Mis) Information. Suffice it to say now that what MR. Tatad wants International and local press to do can no longer make bites. But if they did their readers will find it too impossible to believe either. There’s not even anyone who’s willing to add vote in his name everytime he runs. Last time he wins in an election was during Erap’s Presidency. After that, no more. After painstakingly defending Erap in an impeachment having to engage in a debate with his fellow Bicolano Joker, his political career has been doomed. For quite a while doing legislative works and serving in Congress as a Senator he now wants it abolished also. Wow! What a F..k! As they say.

  7. Having been a Minister of public information and also became a Senator when Marcos was the President, would you explain why then Vice President Arturo M. Tolentino (author of ITLOS) was not installed as the successor when former President Marcos was already in poor health (kidney failure) instead of Cory Aquino. isn’t it that when a sitting President can no longer perform his duties as Commander-in-Chief that a sitting Vice President would be the next in line to become President of the Philippines? Thank you.

  8. PNoy’s new Title is “Mis-Chief Executive” a lame duck (ineffective & unsuccessful President or administration in it’s final period of office) who playfully misbehave, cheat, spread lies and create problems politically such as Term Extension, Charter Change and reducing power of the Judiciary.

    It’s a desperate move to stay in power or try to gain control and to avoid being charge of plunder.

    Noynoy the Menace is a mischievous president that create troubles, havoc and annoy peoplearound him to attract their attention.

    http://mobile.nytimes.com/2014/08/29/opinion/political-mischief-in-the-philippines.html?referrer=

    • Really, Noynoy is a close friend of Garfield. Kapal ng mukha. Namatay lang ung nanay eh naiboto na agad na presidente. Hunghang na mga bobotante

  9. The end of the myth? perhaps NYT should start probing Ninoy’s murder, where the myth was born, baptized as EDSA revolution(the 1% revolution), I believe that even NYT were fooled by this myth. What Schultz and Rosenthal said only confirms what the other 99% believed at that time(except MBC). – that were heading for irreversible disaster. The worst part is,,,,were still living in it!

  10. Obviously the foreign press and media organizations, which have correspondents living in Manila, were ordered by their editors back home to work as President Aquino’s propagandists. Otherwise how could they. the journalists in the Foreign Correspondents’ Association of the Philippines (FOCAP)–to a man and woman–have suppressed the truth?

    One of these truths–which President Aquino lied about in his very first SONA–is the state of the economy. Some of the FOCAP journalists wrote good articles about the state of the Philippine economy under former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. Why did they not write that PNoy had lied about the state of the economy in his July 2010 SONA. Why didn’t they write about the disastrous cancellation by PNoy of ongoing projects begun under former President Arroyo, that cancellation of which caused the dismal GDP numbers at the end of 2010?

    Now they will tell the truth about the corruption and wrongdoings in the Aquino Administration. The statement made by US Ambassador Goldberg in the news story published by The Manlla Times said “Good governance is what will attract American investors to the Philippines.” This means the US Ambassador is at last saying that contrary to the glowing reports about the good governance of Aquino in theAmerican press these past four years–thanks to the reports by FOCAP journalists– are wrong. There is no good governance in our country and that is why foreign direct investments from the US are just as little as in the Arroyo administration.

  11. Jose A. Oliveros on

    Following the “Coloma dictum” we should not take seriously PeNoy’s word that he would not seek a term extension. Let us, therefore, continue to be vigilant “lest by culpable tolerance or criminal negligence” (to borrow that elegant phrase from the late Sen. Claro M. Recto), we should wake up one day to discover that our democracy has been “hijacked” by that “petty tyrant” (in the words of Sen. Tatad).

  12. Roldan Guerrero on

    Let us not wait for foreign incursions to correct the mistake we made in installing a CATFISH HEADED and THE UGLIEST EVER MALACANIANG.TENANT. Let us do it ourselves and physically unseat him and face the crimes he committed. We were able to dislodge a STRONGMEN like Marcos…cant we do it to a SELF-SERVING STUPID?

  13. True enough, the NYT editorial was only using “kid gloves” in its negative comments about the mischievous PNoy administration. Next time around, I predict the NYT will be wearing heavier gloves.

  14. Silverio Cabellon, Jr., M.D. on

    Members of Congress will have to decide whether an amendment to the Constitution will carry by a three-fourths vote. Then to be part of the Constitution it has to be approved by a plebiscite. No President can just amend the Constitution.

    • you are correct in your opinion about amendments to the constitution. but the problem is, and i think you are aware of it, that congress have been ‘bribed’ and they could not cross aquino lest they loose their pork, especially now that according to knowledgeable sources that the pork in the 2015 budget is under the control of aquino and abad, and would not have anything to pay for the votes of their constituents. plus the hocus pcos machine which aquino controls. am sure you are also aware that the safeguards mandated by law in the use of the hocus pcos were not implemented by the comelec in the last 2 elections as per knowledgeable sources.

  15. Stubborn? That’s not the appropriate term to describe the president. Sad to say, PNoy is simply beyond description.

  16. So there you have it, fellow Filipinos. A group of high-calibre intellectuals from the New York Times interviewed Cory Aquino in Dec. 1985 and concluded that Cory Aquino was “empty-headed” and “vacant.” VACANT as in “bakante” o “walang laman” ang ulo. Her disastrous six years in office as President proved their conclusion right. [Offensive language deleted and changed] Ganoon din ang anak!!

  17. gabriela silang on

    give it to aquino’s media handlers and the co-opted yellow media. they’ve succeeded in painting a picture perfect exploiting the people’s gullibility. but the as the sun rises, it too sets. the luster of media handling has to wane for the simple reason that myth, just like lie, cannot be perpetuated forever. and now the co-opted press sees the light(except for a few press). verily, good advertisement is not enough to sell a damaged goods.

  18. A very well done assessment of the previous and current status of the Philippines governance … Sick sick Philippines in all levels of government staring from the top down.

  19. “That empty-headed woman has no positions. She is a dazed and vacant woman,” Shultz quotes Rosenthal as saying, in the former’s memoirs, Turmoil and Triumph, is a statement that can be attributed to the son also. It took the perceptive and sensitive mind of a senior writer , an editor-in-chief, like A.M.Rosenthal to see through Cory. I am sure he can see through the Abnoy too and knows that he can never be a useful ally to the US. Let alone a head of state deserving decent respect.

    Wasn’t it just recently that the Abnoy made himself the laughing stock of Washington when he asked the Japanese to rewrite their constitution, to disengage themselves from their no war involvement since the 2nd world war, in order to be able to help us defend ourselves from China. Aren’t those words indicative of a vacuous mind?

    • I think the only reason that the US was vacillating about the PH situation was that they were thinking whether BSA would turn things around. The NY Times articles may be have been using “soft” words, but the true import of those are quite clear.