You can still feel the grief of the Corona family. And the muted grief that the death has cast on the judicial community. Renato Corona would still be the chief justice of the high court today – and not a dead, broken man – had the political and legal mobs that lynched him early in the days of the Aquino administration (under Aquino’s direction) reined in their exuberance to lynch — and scrapped that kangaroo court.
Justice Corona’s impeachment, and the civil and criminal charges he faced post-impeachment, weakened the will to live and his failing heart just stopped beating. A cardiac patient (I am a serious case so I know) must first have the will to live before he can survive the perils and treachery of a failing heart. At 67, still young for a top jurist, he was several years younger than Ruth Baden Ginsburg. It is the sense of many Filipinos that the appropriate epitaph on the late former chief justice’s tomb should be this: First major victim of the Aquino-Roxas administration.
Why “ first?” Because after Mr. Corona’s impeachment the Aquino and Roxas Bros, “the little caudillos,” went on to ruin other vital government institutions. The binge on demonizing other vital institutions and personalities was carried out with a convenient cover – purging corruption — but it was really a combination of the “because we can” mind set and the desire to govern without regard for the other vital institutions. It was a calibrated and deliberate effort to draw attention from a government that favored and put in place reckless and unfettered capitalism at the expense of ordinary lives. That created the environment for an unprecedented wealth creation in the country’s history that only had one trajectory – upward.
With the vital institutions damaged, and with Big Media focused on the stories of corruption generally sourced from the Aquino-Roxas propaganda machine, there was very little focus on the tacit agreement between Mr. Aquino and the economic elite – give me my growth charts and credit upgrades and I will give you riches beyond your imagination. Corruption, a pure evil, became a Wag the Dog tool that allowed the Aquino-Roxas Duo to rule as they please and cover up the excesses of the elite.
After the Corona impeachment, and again using the crusade against corruption as cover, the little caudillos, went on to train their wrath on:
Congress via the release of the COA Special Audit Report
The office of the vice president via the long-running revelations on the supposed corrupt acts of Vice President Binay and members of his family.
We all know the results. These are:
The former chief justice died a broken man and the institution he represented, the Supreme Court, was put under a shadow of doubt. The impeachment trial had surreal, Kafkaesque scenes about things the Aquino minions had not gotten tired of invoking – fat peso accounts, dollar accounts and undisclosed properties here and elsewhere.
Members of the House and the Senate just dropped their demand for their usual share of budget determination, a move that enabled the little caudillos to have total control of the budget process and the national budget. Otherwise, the senators and congressmen will be hauled to jail with data from the COA Special Audit Report. Just like what happened to Johnny, Jingoy and Panday. For the non-guilty legislators cited in the report, it would be trial by publicity.
The incumbent vice president, the early leader in the presidential polling, sank in the polls and was forced to leave his Cabinet post after a drip-drip of stories on Makati-centric corruption stories. What is more compelling than the optics of a “ Hacienda Binay?”
Count the casualties. The judiciary, the Congress, the vice presidency. With all the three muzzled, the little caudillos ruled without the usual checks and balance. The Aquino-Roxas Bros ruled without opposition from the other institutions vested with the function to rein in the abuses of the president and his alter ego.
While farmers starved and got massacred while begging for rice, while the most vital agriculture sector stagnated, while the peons earned slave wages and worked under the brutal regime of contractualization, while 10 million families rated themselves as poor, while an equal number of children are severely malnourished, the little caudillos wowed the Davos and the MBC crowd and got puffery from the parachuting financial journalists.
The Big Media, as its leading lights lapped up the corruption stories and failed to examine the brutal wages of the government of the little caudillos, these emerged: a few families sucked in much of the gains from the collective toil of the working class and some of the members are dollar billionaires that are rich enough to buy small countries.
Fortunately, we have seen through the fake focus on corruption and realized – before it was too late – that we have been conned by the little caudillos. That for the vulnerable sectors, life was better then (under supposedly corrupt leaders) – than now. That the long-running stories on “corruption” were deliberately placed to give the little caudillos the legal cover to damage men and institutions that might get in their way. Looking back, what happened was this. Official corruption, the second evil, was drummed up to hide the sin of the little caudillos, which was the creation of the most economically- unequal society in the country’s sad history.
With Mr. Binay’s lead gone, the new leader in the presidential polling is now the getting the headlines for supposed undeclared wealth. We do not know what is true or not. We do not know whether Mr. Duterte really had that fat bank account and ownership of multiple properties. What we know is this: Supporters of the Digong are not as fickle as the supporters of Mr. Binay and any attack on their candidate is held as the gospel of untruth.
We are also very sure of this: that the Aquino- Roxas Bros, the little caudillos, are using the same storyline to eliminate a threat to Mr. Roxas’ presidential ambition. Six more years of elite rule, six more years of upward redistribution, six years of the same old, same old.
Peons of the country unite! Let us all vote out the little caudillos.