THERE MIGHT very well be a conspiracy afoot to prevent the election of Vice-President Jejomar Binay to the Presidency in 2016. It doesn’t release Binay from the responsibility of credibly answering the accusations that have been hurled against him. But neither should it prevent the media from using the opportunity to provide the public the information and analysis it needs to encourage citizen action against corruption.
The 2016 elections may be all of nineteen months away, but no one will seriously challenge the probability that what’s happening to Binay is a pre-emptive strike intended to steadily erode voter preference for him. Nevertheless, declarations that “it’s just politics” and “selective justice” won’t do, given the seriousness of the charges, and the opportunity they offer for the media to enhance public understanding not only of corruption but also of the exclusionary character of the political system that makes corruption inevitable.
HIS NUMBERS may be falling and those of one of his putative opponents rising, but Jejomar Binay is at this point still the leading candidate for the Presidency in 2016.
Binay still topped the list of preferred presidential candidates in a September 8 Pulse Asia survey despite a sharp decline, from a previous (June 2014) 41 percent, to 31 percent, which, given a margin of error of three points, could either be a high preference number of 34 percent, or a low of 28.
REACTING TO demands that he fire Philippine National Police Chief Alan Purisima for, among other reasons, the involvement of policemen in robberies, extortion, kidnapping, even murder and other crimes, President Benigno Aquino III declared that “there have always been ‘scalawags’ in the police.” That statement implied that there’s nothing that can be done about it, in perhaps the same way that we can’t do anything about the sun’s rising in the East and setting in the West.
Apparently firing Purisima and reforming the police are out of the question as far as Mr. Aquino is concerned because that’s just the way things are—in addition to the fact that Purisima is virtually part of Mr. Aquino’s barkada, having been appointed to the exalted post of PNP chief because Mr. Aquino has warm thoughts about his alleged involvement in the defense of the Cory Aquino government when it was under siege from coup plotters in the late 1980s.
FORTY-TWO years have passed since Ferdinand Marcos placed the entire country under martial law on September 23, 1972 (he signed Presidential Proclamation 1081 on September 21, implementing it only two days later). But some Filipinos still argue that things were better during the dictatorship, while others recall the way the regime ruined countless lives and inflicted on Philippine society its dark legacies of human rights violations, abuse of power, corruption and bad governance.
This year, both that practically endless debate and the Marcos family’s decades-long campaign to have the late dictator buried in the Libingan ng mga Bayani (Heroes’ Cemetery) marked the 42nd anniversary of Proclamation 1081. Support for the latter is often linked to the belief that the Marcos regime ushered in a period of peace and prosperity—or that, at the very least, Marcos was an authentic hero deserving the honor.
IN THE COURSE of his visit to several European countries, President Benigno Aquino III rejected, during a forum in Brussels, the capital of Belgium, what he called “blanket statements”—and proceeded to make some blanket statements of his own.
Mr. Aquino was responding to the claims of protesters and some forum participants that human rights violations including extrajudicial killings have been continuing during his administration despite his 2010 campaign promise to put a stop to them, and that the government’s counter-insurgency program endangered people’s rights and lives.