‘We love our champ if he sticks to what he does best and we condemn him when he dabbles in fields outside his core competence. Focus on sports. Stay away from politics.’ READ FULL STORY
Tag archive for "Philippine politics"
Among 2013’s most explosive stories, how multi-billion-peso public funds were so blatantly misused shocked and angered the nation. That the abuses involved public officials, obscure private individuals, and fake non-governmental organizations added to the outrage. How could corruption be masked so well? READ FULL STORY
By Niki Yarte —
Most Filipinos perceive our brand of politics as dirty and unethical, and by direct correlation, Filipino politicians are mostly corrupt and self-serving. The most recent P10-billion pork barrel scam reinforces this perception and further alienates the electorate from the self-proclaimed public servants.
Yet every now and then we see extraordinary individuals who slay the dragons of traditional politics and its attendant tentacles – self-aggrandizement, abuse of power, incompetence – and challenge the status quo. Their vision, courage and determination help restore the people’s hope in politics and government. Among such exceptional leaders are five mayors from around the country whose commonality involves the successful transformation of their respective cities as well as the unique demeanor with which they approached their office.
Arsenio H. Lacson, Manila, 1952-1962
The first mayor of Manila to be elected to three terms, Arsenio H. Lacson inherited a staggering debt of more than P20 million when he took over City Hall in 1951 after serving as congressman for one term. By 1959 he had managed to turn the city’s finances around. Lacson embarked on crusades to maintain peace and order and good government in Manila, firing incompetent employees and corrupt policemen.
All throughout his 10 years as mayor, Lacson maintained his radio program where he lambasted politicians of all stripes and dissected local and national issues. The programs were pre-recorded in order to edit out his expletives and occasional foul language. Sporting a broken nose from his amateur boxing days and his trademark aviator sunglasses, he earned the nickname “Arsenic” for his sharp tongue and penchant for whiskey even in daylight hours. He incurred the ire of Presidents Roxas and Quirino for his scathing criticism of their administrations. It was he who famously described then-neophyte councilor Ernesto Maceda, “so young yet so corrupt”.
Had Lacson not suffered a fatal heart attack in 1962, the Nacionalista Party would’ve fielded him against President Diosdado Macapagal in the 1965 presidential elections instead of another politico he had humiliated when they served together in Congress – Ferdinand Marcos.
Richard Gordon, Olongapo City, 1980-1986, 1988–1998
When Dick Gordon was first elected, Olongapo was known as “Sin City” for the rampant prostitution and rowdy night clubs in its infamous Red Light District, populated by GIs from the US naval base in nearby Subic. Under his leadership, Olongapo became a “model city” through his innovative programs such as raising police accountability through ID systems, proper health and sanitation, waste management and the strict observance of color-coding in public transport.
But Gordon’s greatest challenges came in 1991: first, in June, when the cataclysmic eruption of Mt. Pinatubo buried the city in 14 inches of wet ash, and three months later, when the Philippine Senate voted to end the RP-US Military Bases Agreement, and with it, the 40,000 local jobs that the naval base generated. In his characteristic go-go attitude, Gordon rallied the people of Olongapo to literally rise from the ashes and rebuild the city. Volunteerism became the rallying cry. At the same time, Gordon lobbied for the conversion of the Subic naval base into a free port, leading to the establishment of the Subic Bay Freeport Zone and its administrative body, the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority.
In 1992 President Cory Aquino appointed Gordon as the first SBMA administrator while concurrently serving as Olongapo mayor. A year later Gordon was forced to give up his mayoralty post in favor of SBMA. He went on to build Subic Freeport Zone into a new investment hub in Southeast Asia.
Rodrigo Duterte, Davao City, 1988-1998, 2001-2010, 2013-present
Dubbed “The Punisher” by Time Magazine for his unrelenting stance against criminals, Rudy Duterte is credited for transforming Davao City’s reputation as “the murder capital of the Philippines” to being one of the country’s most peaceful cities. His no-nonsense drive against criminality is legendary: giving a barangay captain 48 hours to clean up illegal drug activities in his area, offering a P5-million reward for the head “on ice” of a suspected leader of a carnapping syndicate, and issuing a shoot-to-kill order against armed criminals who enter the city.
Duterte’s “police mentality” has earned the indignation of the Philippine Commission on Human Rights, Amnesty International and human rights groups who accuse him of extrajudicial killings. The Human Rights Watch labeled him as “someone who openly advocates murder to bring peace and prosperity.”
While the mayor would not admit to the scores of suspected vigilante killings, he takes pride in the “cleansing” of the city, earning commendation from ordinary citizens and the business community. Depending on who you ask, Duterte is either a model crime fighter or a vigilante killer.
Jesse Robredo, Naga City, 1988-1998, 2001-2010
Jesse Robredo was notable not just for his contributions to his city but also for lacking the boastful and extravagant style of the typical politician. He was the antithesis of trapo, the traditional politician: he was humble, lived a modest life, listened before he barked orders, abhorred the trappings of power. He would punch in his own time card at City Hall and wear the same uniform required of city employees. He would often be seen in public without an entourage or security detail, taking public transportation even to official functions, and even sweeping the streets.
Today, Naga is considered one of the most business-friendly and livable cities in the country. Poverty and unemployment levels are significantly lower than the national average, while literacy and sanitation levels greatly improved. A successful housing program distributed 8,000 homes to alleviate rampant squatting.
But the most enduring legacies of Robredo are good governance and people empowerment. He established the Naga City People’s Council that institutionalized the participation of the people in the development process and installed a system for government transparency and accountability. He received the 2000 Ramon Magsaysay Award for Government Service – the only local official in the country to be so honored – for “demonstrating that effective city management is compatible with yielding power to the people”.
Edward Hagedorn, Puerto Princesa City, 1992-2001, 2002-2013
A self-confessed ex-gangster, Edward Hagedorn likens his personal transformation to the physical rebirth of Puerto Princesa. Once engaged in illegal logging and gambling operations, he turned his back on these nefarious activities after he was elected mayor. Environmental protection and sustainable tourism became his rallying cry, spearheading such projects as Bantay Puerto (Puerto Princesa Watch) and Oplan Linis (Clean and Green Campaign).
Under his leadership, Puerto Princesa became one of the major eco-tourism destinations in the Philippines. The city also became a global model for environment protection, winning several global recognition and awards. Locally, Puerto Princesa has earned the title as the country’s cleanest and greenest city.
In a landmark case, Hagedorn declared a state of calamity – a function that only the President can enact – so he could use emergency funds to provide livestock and farm implements to farmers who had lost their main source of livelihood after ordering them to cease their slash-and-burn (kaingin) practices. Because Hagedorn’s actions were against existing laws at the time, he was set to face a case filed by the Ombudsman. The complaint was set aside when legislators intervened, passing a law that allowed local government units to follow Hagedorn’s resourcefulness.
Whether they come in large or small amounts, pork barrel allocations have generated a lot of controversy since they were first introduced in the Philippines in 1922. In 1925, Senate Minority Leader Juan Sumulong charged that the ruling party had “misused public funds in the form of pork barrel appropriations.” READ FULL STORY
By Cherie M. del Rio
“I am insulted by the way your minds run.”
Addressed to her colleagues, this statement was one of the most memorable quotes Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago delivered during the highly publicized impeachment trial of former Chief Justice Renato Corona. Her speech immediately became a cause for controversy, with her powerful lines eliciting both praise and scorn. Santiago has been known to bring to public attention issues that most politicians deliberately conceal or are afraid to acknowledge. But while the substance of her speech and the wisdom of her statements are often admirable, many people find her antics and method of delivery – in her trademark Ilonggo-accented shrieking voice — discourteous, insulting and arrogant. In the halls of Congress, her actuation is referred to as “unparliamentary.”
Santiago’s witticism, or antics if you will, never fails to land on primetime television news. She is a favorite of young professionals and college students who abhor the typical long-winded boring and uninspired remarks of politicians. Like a whiff of fresh air, she brings vigor and color – and controversy — to the drab proceedings in the Senate. But there is always the question of whether or not she goes too far and whether her “eccentricity” crosses the lines of “propriety” and “civility”.
In one of the hearings on the Corona case, Santiago vented her ire on the prosecution panel for boasting that it had already won the case. “Kung ano-ano ang pinagsasabi nyo sa media na panalo na kami . . . you are engaging in a public discourse on the merit of the case . . . ang yayabang ng nagsasalita ng ganyan, gago naman . . . Ang kagaguhan is a ground for contempt of court. . . Sasabihin nyo na panalo na kami sa tatlong articles of impeachment. Kami ang nagde-desisyon nyan, hindi kayo. Ang yayabang nyo!”
Reacting to Santiago’s rant, Fr. Catalino Arevalo remarked that Santiago was “worthy of the fires of hell”. The respected Jesuit priest said the senator should issue a public apology for always berating the congressmen-prosecutors during the Corona impeachment trial. “If you call anybody ‘you fool,’ you are worthy of the fires of hell,” he said. “And she called them gago, which is Filipino for fool, before millions of people.” Santiago’s retort: “Under Vatican 2, there is no hell; but even if there is, there is nobody there.”
Others joined in. An editorial chided Santiago: “She is loud, arrogant, and intolerant of anyone but herself.” A lawyer observed, “I was just wondering why the Senate, composed mostly of lawyers, has not admonished or even disciplined Santiago for her uncalled-for behavior of bamboozling key witnesses and other parties during the impeachment trial and even in committee hearings.”
Among the more recent onslaught against Santiago was initiated by the group US Pinoys For Good Governance, which launched an online petition asking the International Criminal Court, where Santiago was elected as one of the judges, to reject the senator.
The petition read in part: “We are bringing this matter to your attention for fear that you may construe her uncivilized behavior and her loose ethics as epitomizing the Filipino people. While, ironically, it should be a source of pride for Filipinos to have one of our own elected to your honorable court, we are embarrassed by the ill-considered nomination of Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago. Far from representing the best of us, she typifies the worst. We fear that her presence in the International Criminal Court will make us the laughing stock of the world.”
In the face of it all, it cannot be denied that while people are both thoroughly amused and incensed by the senator’s theatrics, there are those who have come to admire the honesty and candor of her words. Although her way of conveying her views may appear infuriating to some, Santiago indubitably sheds light on realities in a manner so effective that her detractors probably wish they had the same flair and competence.
Her page in official website of the Senate of the Philippines declares, “No other politician in the country, despite wealth or popularity, has received the universal admiration she evokes as a brilliant, principled politician with a wicked sense of humor. She remains feisty and controversial, as she weaves her unique brand of what media calls ‘Miriam Magic,’ the noble appeal to idealism in the hurly-burly world of politics in a developing country.”
Santiago’s brand of humor was on the news again recently when her “pickup” lines strewn all across the Internet, spreading quickly among social media platforms. Addressing an audience at the University of the Philippines, she dished out her own pickup lines:
Kung magkakaroon ako ng sariling planeta, gusto ko ikaw ang axis nito, para sayo lang iikot ang mundo ko.
Sana naka-off ang ilaw, para tayo na lang mag-on.
Parang see-saw, pag wala ka, down ako.
She followed it up with her taray lines. “So… kailangan minsan sa pulitika, para lang mabuhay sa pulitika, to survive, if not to prevail, kailangan mataray ka. Iba naman klaseng taray ito. Eto nga yun sinasabi ko:
Di ko sinasabing maganda ako. Sinasabi ko lang, pangit ka.
Pag nakikita kita, parang gusto kong magsorry sa mga mata ko.”
Is Miriam a worthy idol or simply an idiot? There are no easy answers and the question will persist even when she vacates her Senate seat soon to assume her post at the International Criminal Court in The Hague. The only sure thing is that without Miriam Philippine politics will never be as wacky and entertaining.
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