Contrary to Acting Justice Secretary Alberto Agra’s delusion that he’s the most hated person in the Philippines, he isn’t. It’s not because he doesn’t qualify. It’s because there are literally hundreds of other candidates for that title, most of whom are in the same government that he serves, among them other Cabinet members, certain congressmen, governors and mayors, police and military generals, and Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.
The most colorful epithets are in fact reserved for the latter by businessmen and professionals — and even by her former economics adviser, Albay Governor Joey Salceda, who once called her “a lucky bitch” in public. (God knows what he calls her in private.) And that’s only at the highest levels of government. Imagine how many other people responsible for their suffering — landlords, usurers, MMDA traffic enforcers, policemen — common folk must also resent.
Instead of turning a bad thing into a good thing, acting Justice Secretary Alberto Agra did exactly the opposite: he turned what was already a bad thing into something worse.
From the way he keeps smiling at the cameras, he looks as if he’s gained something from the whole wretched mess. But it’s certainly not the improvement of his public image or that of the government he serves. The widespread public cynicism over the capacity of the so-called justice system to do justice to those who’ve been aggrieved, as expressed in various ways by those familiar with the role of the Ampatuans in the so-called victory of Gloria Macapagal Arroyo in 2004 and of her candidates for the Senate in 2007, is now universal. (The results of a survey on which government agency the public trusts the least should be interesting. )
By common agreement, except among those in the dirty tactics departments of the groups behind the leading candidates for the presidency who think of it as just doing a job, the 2010 election campaign is turning ugly. With a little more than three weeks to go, however, it’s likely that the use of such tactics as leaking false “psychiatric reports” and circulating rumors of varying degrees of outrageousness has not reached the “historic lows” some analysts have observed in these elections.
Smear campaigns, mudslinging, muckraking and similar tactics are the staple of all Philippine elections, together with violence, intimidation, bribery and fraud.
The current (and seemingly worsening) power crisis and what it could mean to the May elections, among the possibilities being that of a nation wide shut-down of the machines being put in place for the first ever automated polls.
The possible granting of emergency powers to Gloria Macapagal Arroyo to address the power shortage in Mindanao. Questions over Arroyo’s last-minute appointments in the military and the executive branch. Her literally hundreds of “midnight” appointments to various positions, from ambassadors to bureau underlings.