These are not the best of times, and this country is not the fun place the tourism posters say it is—not for many Filipinos who feel they’re getting poorer and poorer each day, not for human rights defenders nor political activists who’re being harassed and killed, and certainly not for the LGBT community.
In the latest Social Weather Stations survey, self-rated poverty increased in Metro Manila from a previous 37 percent to 43 percent. In the rest of Luzon it was 52 from 45 percent. Meanwhile, self-rated food poverty was up from 27 percent to 30 percent in Metro Manila and from 32 percent to 37 percent in the rest of Luzon.
Olongapo City prosecutor Emilie Fe de los Santos declared the other day during the preliminary investigation of the murder charge against Private First Class Joseph Scott Pemberton of the United States Marine Corps that “there is no gender issue” involved in the killing of Jennifer Laude. “The issue,” she said is simply that “someone got killed.”
Was de los Santos saying that Jennifer Laude would have been killed anyway even if she was born a woman, and that her being a transgender is immaterial to the question of motive? Isn’t motive a fundamental issue in establishing the guilt or innocence of anyone accused of a crime?
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.