Politics is from the Greek word “politikos” which means of, for or relating to citizens. A politician, meanwhile is defined by Merriam-Webster as (1) a person experienced in the art or science of government, especially one actively engaged in conducting the business of a government; (2a) a person engaged in party politics as a profession; (2b) a person primarily interested in political office for selfish or other narrow usually short-sighted reasons.
Ever since I could remember, whenever a politician would find himself or herself in a bind, the common excuse would be “pulitika” (politics) or “pinupulitika” (politicized).
I wonder what do these politicians mean exactly when they say “pulitika” or “pinupulitika”?
Does an issue become trivial when it is political? Is a controversy less serious when it is political? Does a crime turn into a petty offense when it is political?
I used to be a politician—as an elected official from 1995 to 1998. Later on and up to the present, I still engage in politics but more as a campaigner and an avid observer rather than a direct participant. Although there are negative connotations attached to being a politician, I am proud to be one, to be married to another and to have ascendants who were politicians. I personally believe that a politician can be good, and can be bad. It is a profession (or even a vocation or an advocacy), just like any other.
Recently, there were three privilege speeches delivered in the august plenary hall of the Senate on separate occasions by the three senators charged with plunder due to their involvement in the PDAF scam. The press releases prior to the scheduled privilege speeches touted of revelations, exposés and nothing but the truth. Covered by the national media on radio and television, all we got, however, were baseless innuendos, name-calling, props and yes, “pulitika lang yan”—one, because they said that they are with the opposition and, two, because they claim to be presidentiables or vice presidentiables.
Of course, it is political.
How can it not be political when those involved are politicians? How can it not be political when they used their position and influence for their own personal interests? How can it not be political when it is their pork barrel, which was supposed to have been spent for the benefit of the citizens, that is involved, abused and pocketed?
During the impeachment of Chief Justice Renato Corona, “pulitika” was also often said and heard. Chief Justice Corona was a midnight appointee of then President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. He got his position because of politics.
He was appointed because of politics. “Pulitika” played a role, but he was not impeached merely because of “pulitika”.
He was impeached because he violated his oath and committed violations against the law he swore to protect.
When Ruby Tuason came out and testified at the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee, she gave information, which further strengthened the case against some of those involved in the PDAF scam. It was totally unexpected. Is it political?
Ruby Tuason used to be the Social Secretary of former President Joseph Estrada. As Social Secretary, she was the official events organizer of Malacañang Palace. She organized state dinners, made sure the flowers were fresh and that the food served was enough. The work may not be political in nature but she hobnobbed with a lot of politicians. She can only get that job if she had the full trust and confidence of the appointing authority.
Why then did she turn against the son of the President that appointed her? Was it political? Is it because Senator Jinggoy Estrada is with the opposition? How about Senator Juan Ponce Enrile and Atty. Gigi Reyes?
Well, she wanted to save herself (and she admitted this in her opening statement and during questioning). She said she was also bothered by her conscience.
Some playful minds think she is a Trojan horse. She is represented by one of the counsels of Chief Justice Corona in the impeachment hearing, who happens to belong to the law firm of Sen. Enrile’s brother-in-law. She admitted to taking money as commission from the PDAF projects she was able to sign up for Janet Napoles, but only in the 40 million peso range. There is plunder when the aggregate or total amount involved is 50 million pesos and up. Is she a Trojan Horse?
If she is, she did more harm to those playing the role of the Greeks in the PDAF scam.
According to Mahatma Gandhi: “The roots of violence are wealth without work, pleasure without conscience, knowledge without character, commerce without morality, science without humanity, worship without sacrifice, politics without principles.” (Young India, 22 October 1925)
Politics is not bad. Not all politicians are bad. Some are.