Monday, December 19, 2011

Still the sick man of Asia

The Wall Street Journal once referred to the Philippines as the “perpetual sick man of Asia,” a moniker the country earned because of the pervasiveness of graft and corruption in its political institutions, and in society in general.

Observers point out that without exception, the whole Philippine government, from the Executive to the Legislative to the Judiciary, has been immersed in the culture of open and pervasive graft and plunder. The cancer of corruption has also shamefully earned us the stigma of being “the most corrupt country in Asia.”

While there is good news of the country’s recent economic performance, suggesting an unexpected recovery from its usual frail status, like a four-year low 6.4 per cent in unemployment rate and an upgrade in its credit rating from the New York-based Standard & Poor (S&P) Ratings Services, the political climate in the Philippines remains unclear, if not surreal.
President Noynoy Aquino greets Supreme Court Chief Justice Renato Corona
during National Criminal Justice Summit in Manila. AP Photo/Malacanang Photo.
Click link to
view "Chief Justice Corona: "I am your defender!"
The imprisonment of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo on charges of election sabotage and corruption, and the impeachment of her appointee, Renato Corona, as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, for his bias in the court’s rulings in favour of Mrs. Arroyo, are distracting the reform agenda of the incumbent government of President Noynoy Aquino. President Aquino considers these two personalities as the main obstacles in his objective of cleaning the government of corruption that will enable him to deliver on his election campaign promise.

But in singling out his predecessor and the current Chief Justice, President Aquino’s strategy may miscarry and thrust his administration into a deeper hole where there is no possible escape.

Aquino’s zeal in eliminating corruption is already seen by many as risky and may plunge the country into instability. A Corona acquittal will inevitably erode President’s Aquino’s popularity and could engender more hostility from the judiciary.

The uncertainties of the impeachment process and the politicalization of the judiciary that it brings upon the courts could dampen economic growth and drive away foreign investment. Sluggish exports this year are already predicted to slow down the economy. Impeachment is also diverting political leaders from the more serious problems of unemployment, slow growth and inflation.

Impeachment of any sitting president or the highest magistrate could bring paralysis to the state.

With the Senate about to indict former President Joseph Estrada in 2001, a people power uprising saved the senators from convicting the first Filipino president impeached by Congress. But this kind of uprising is not possible this time. It’s like “cache-22.” If Corona is successfully impeached, Aquino will be accused of coercing the judiciary into submission. If Corona is acquitted, Aquino's public support will take a big hit. And should former President Arroyo escape conviction, President Aquino might be seen as damaged goods forever. This will further wear down his presidential cape, which the military might exploit if the situation becomes uncontrollable by civilian authority.

Or, a reversal of fortune.

With President Aquino’s triumphal disposal of his predecessor and the Chief Justice, he might be emboldened to install constitutional authoritarianism, a “creeping dictatorship” feared by some as already happening.

Corona, for the record, is the first Chief Justice and Justice of the Philippine Supreme Court to be impeached by the House of Representatives. At least 95 signatures (one-third of all members of the House) are required to impeach, and 188 of the 284 members of the House voted to impeach Corona.
Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III, 15th President of the Philippines and 5th President
of the Republic. Click link to view "Viral Video 'Attacks' Aquino-Cojuangco Family
There are rumours circulating that President Aquino was personally involved in hatching the impeachment proposal, some alleging that the President was castigated by elders of his family, the Cojuangco clan, for being responsible for the loss of Hacienda Luisita. The court presided by Corona made the decision to transfer ownership of Hacienda Luisita to the hands of the farmers, which obviously disgusted the Cojuangco clan who has been in possession and control of the disputed lands for more than sixty years.

But the Senate would be a totally different scenario, however. The number of senators is smaller compared to the House of Representatives, and they are elected at large by the entire electorate. Senators have a national rather than a district constituency, thus are expected to have a broader outlook of the problems of the country, instead of being restricted by narrow viewpoints and interests. They are likely to be considered as more circumspect, or at least less impulsive than members of the House.

To indict the Chief Justice, two-thirds of the total 24 senators are required to vote in favour. This would be a tall order, and with members mostly from the legal profession, it is unlikely that the Senate would vote against a fellow member of the bar.

Corona’s impeachment will probably draw references from the experience of the United States, whose constitutional practices and provisions were written into the Philippine Constitution almost verbatim. American case law is also usually cited in the Philippine judicial system.

Only one member of the United States Supreme Court, Justice Samuel Chase, had ever been subjected to the impeachment process. Chase was accused of showing his extreme Federalist bias that led to his treating defendants and their counsel in a deliberately unfair manner. The Senate acquitted Chase, holding the view that grounds for impeachment should be either based on criminality or abuse of office, rather than partisanship, thus preventing the overt politicalization of the process.

It is therefore up to the Philippine Senate to rise to the challenge. Whether it can rise beyond political partisanship remains to be seen. Corona was a “midnight appointment” to the position of Chief Justice, and a former chief of staff to President Arroyo and Presidential Legal Counsel to former President Fidel Ramos. But the legality of Corona’s “midnight appointment” has already been addressed by Congress and the Office of the President, including the other issues which are being challenged for Corona’s impartiality toward his former boss, Mrs. Arroyo.

In one of his public speeches, President Aquino has admitted that the Chief Justice remains to be the last stumbling block to his reform agenda. It will be interesting to find how the Senate will ignore political alliances and decide on the merits of the case. Otherwise, this important trial will peter out in another political scandal that will further drive the country down into an abysmal chaos. If there is any conviction, it must be clear cut, not just on the grounds of mere suspicions of wrongdoing.

But the handwriting on the wall appears unmistakably clear. In the end, partisan politics, entrenched interests, and personal greed will win over common sense and doing the right thing. It would be another sad day for Filipinos, but what could we expect from our irresponsible and oligarchic elite?
Philippine Congress in joint session. Photo courtesy of Bikoy. Click link to view "Pinoy Politicians:
Wealthy Liars, Rich Traitors & Media Darlings!" 
Paul Hutchcroft, an American political scientist, wrote in “Oligarchs and Cronies in the Philippine State: the Politics of Patrimonial Plunder,” that the Philippine oligarchic elite, where most if not all members of the Senate come from, are “booty capitalists” who prey on the weak state for its rent-extraction. They have very little incentive to demand a more predictable order, according to Hutchcroft. The principal preoccupation of these oligarchs is to gain favourable proximity to the political machinery.

With former President Arroyo out of the picture, these oligarchs and even those not closely affiliated with the present Aquino regime would be more interested in currying favours to the current occupant of Malacañang rather than demanding profound structural changes, such as strengthening an independent judiciary or keeping a transparent and responsible bureaucracy.

The Philippines is the “sick man of Asia”—and for this stigma, to paraphrase one political commentator, we should be grateful to our irresponsible elite.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

On the verge of a breakdown


On March 16, 1998, the Philippine government (GRP) and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDF) signed the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL). Hailed by both sides as a unique and landmark agreement, CARHRIHL is actually a superfluous agreement.

The GRP and the NDF panels set the objectives of CARHRIHL as follows:

1. To guarantee the protection of human rights to all Filipinos under all circumstances, especially the workers, peasants, and other poor people;

2. To affirm and apply the principles of international humanitarian law to protect the civilian population and individual civilians, as well as persons who do not take direct part or who have ceased to take part in the armed hostilities, including persons deprived of their liberty for reasons related to the armed conflict;

3. To establish effective mechanisms and measures for realizing, monitoring, verifying, and ensuring compliance with the provisions of this Agreement; and

4. To pave the way for comprehensive agreements on economic, social, and political reforms that will ensure the attainment of a just and lasting peace.
Members of the New People's Army (NPA) belonging to the Pulang Bagani Command
 celebrate the 40th Founding Anniversary of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP).
 Photo courtesy of AKP Images. Clic klink to view "Inside the Philippines New People's
CARHRIHL in fact contained provisions already covered by various international declarations and conventions on human rights and international humanitarian law, which the Philippine government had long signed and ratified and which the NDF had also in principle adhered to.

Among the most important international declarations and conventions that the Philippines has agreed to or ratified are the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948), the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (both of which entered into force in 1976), the Geneva Conventions (1949), and Protocol II (1977). In addition, both the GRP and the NDF acknowledged that CARHRIHL includes principles of human rights and international humanitarian law embodied in these instruments.

The Philippines has also in place a Commission on Human Rights and there is a wide network of human-rights groups aligned or sympathetic with the NDF, all human rights bodies that are supposed to address human rights violations.

Even the Rules for Combatants (1989) of the Philippine military direct all military personnel in the field to strictly observe and apply humanitarian principles in the performance of their duties.

So, why the need for CARHRIHL?

After almost 14 years from its adoption, CARHRIHL has barely passed through the first stage of the agreement while the GRP and the NDF panels continue to struggle with their effort to broker a peace agreement.

The spokesperson for the government panel clearly sums up its position on alleged violations of human rights by the government: “So long as there is conflict, there will always be circumstances that can be perceived as human rights violations.”

To the government only the absence of conflict would end violations to human rights. It is a state of war from their point of view. If that would be the case, the laws of war would apply. Should the government be proved culpable of violations of international humanitarian law, the government must be brought to the international criminal court for war crimes. President Noynoy Aquino and his predecessor, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo could be prosecuted as war criminals under the doctrine of command responsibility for extra-judicial killings and enforced disappearances.
Government chief negotiator Alexander Padilla underlined the role of the military and
police  in pursuing a negotiated political settlement with the Communist Party of the
Philippines-New People's Army-National Democratic Front Panel (CPP-NPA-NDF).
So much about the impeachment of the Supreme Court Chief Justice, the prosecution of former President Gloria Arroyo for election sabotage and corruption, or the imminent imposition of an authoritarian government by President Aquino. The government must be teetering on the verge of a political breakdown—this is the looming crisis in our hands.

But back to CARHRIHL.

The NDF panel disagrees with the government’s position. Unless the government addresses the root causes of conflict, the NDF maintains that there will always be armed resistance by the people. Hence, the NDF believes that the government should respect human rights and resume negotiations for lasting peace.

The government, however, is not playing naïve. It believes that the NDF is using human rights violations and the CARHRIHL as a ploy to achieve belligerent status under international law. Currently, however, nations refrain from explicitly recognizing rebels as belligerents to maintain their flexibility in dealing with the parties in conflict. The only alternative for the NDF is to force the government back to the negotiations table with a foreign government as intermediary, thus creating the illusion of two sovereign powers trying to negotiate for peace.
Organizational structure of the NDF. Photo courtesy of by nina de amado. Click
link to view interview with Luis Jalandoni, chairperson of the NDF Panel, by an
Australian reporter,
But lasting peace is not even in the horizon. Here we have a government that is best described as a “cacique” democracy, dominated by a politico-economic elite composed of power families that manipulate elections through patronage, corruption and violence. On the other end of the spectrum, is a dissident organization that seeks to overthrow the government and establish a “people’s democracy” along the lines of a Stalinist-Maoist one-party dictatorship. Both are scary options, and the people who have been numbed by decades of failed experiments in democratic government would, perhaps, simply choose the status quo. With that in mind, the government is wielding its heavy military stick to preserve itself.

Both the government and the NDF would rather destroy each other militarily as well as use the peace talks as a diversionary tactic. Neither side has demonstrated genuine sincerity to the peace process.

Not to mention, the Philippines is also besieged on its southern flank by a secessionist Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), a war waged for self-determination by Filipino Moslems who have never been subjugated either by colonial power or by the central government for more than five centuries. The Moslem separatists appear to have a better chance in creating their own well-delineated Bangsamoro nation, except for the military intervention by U.S. Special Forces under the guise of counterterrorism, which has been allowed by the previous and present Philippine governments.

Now the incumbent government of President Aquino is beset by opposition from the branch of government that is, under the principle of separation of powers, a co-equal branch of the executive. We have a government besieged from the left, from the right and centre, and perhaps, even from its private cordon sanitaire that is responsible for containing the president’s limited ability to govern.

Not just the peace talks with the NDF and the MILF, the entrenched politico-economic elite that dominates the state also appears to handicap President Aquino in governing the country. The impeachment of the Supreme Court Chief Justice and the imprisonment of a former president are manifestations of a bitter contest between these elitist elements, while the majority of the marginalized classes continue to pine for genuine political and economic reforms.

This contest between various sectors of the society could be a linchpin for another “people power” uprising, similar to the popular uprising against the Marcos dictatorship in 1986, and against corruption in the Estrada government in 2001. Or, perhaps, military mutinies like the failed putsches against the administration of President Corazon Aquino. It has been said that a weak government is always an effective reason for a coup d'état.

President Noynoy Aquino’s hands are full nowadays. Two years in his presidency, Aquino has yet to deliver on his election campaign promise to rid the government of corruption. Two insurgencies are testing his leadership as Commander-in- Chief. What is he going to do when the politico-economic elite that dominates the present oligarchic state turns its back against him?

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Super visa – not so super

The new super visa for parents and grandparents took effect last December 1.

Canada Immigration promises to issue these visas within eight weeks of application. So, instead of waiting for eight years to visit their child or grandchildren, parents or grandparents can now come to Canada within a matter of eight weeks.
Canada Immigration Minister Jason Kenney announces the "super visa" program
 for parents and grandparents effective December 1st . Photo courtesy of  Adrian
Wyld/Canadian Press. Click link to view  "A Statement on the New Super Visa,"
What a great relief! But wait, let’s see if this would really work.

Right now, there is a backlog of applications for sponsorship of parents and grandparents. Those waiting for approval for their visas will have to wait for eight years, possibly even ten years, if their applications were received in September 2007. In Manila, for instance, the Canadian Embassy will take 50 months or more than 4 years to assess the sponsors of these applications, and 36 more months or three years to assess the parents and grandparents being sponsored.

Why does it take so long to assess an application? How many eyes are looking at one application and how much paperwork is exchanged between Ottawa or Vegreville and the foreign office? This is where Canada Immigration should focus its efforts to reduce or eliminate the backlog.

There are about eight documents a sponsor fills out when applying to bring a parent or grandparents to Canada, which includes the checklist and the use of a representative form. This means that there are actually only six vital documents that must be reviewed by an Immigration Officer when the sponsorship application is received in Vegreville or in another immigration office inside Canada.

Assessment of an application entails examination of the applicant’s status in Canada, which is the starting point of any sponsorship application. Once status is determined, then a review of proofs of marriage, birth and other family information will follow. An evaluation of the applicant’s income will be made, and if the low income cut-off is satisfied, the application is approved in principle. This entire process does not require 50 months to complete, unless we count the number of times an Immigration Officer goes to the bathroom or breaks for coffee, lunch or a smoke of cigarette. Or factor the time spent in talking with other colleagues that may not be related to the assessment work being done.

Efficiency problem, not backlog

What this picture suggests is an efficiency problem, not a backlog.

Granting Canada Immigration could be short of manpower, still that doesn’t imply a problem of backlog. Besides, Canada Immigration measures backlog as a function of the total number of applications received each year, not as the number of applications actually processed in real time. You’ll always have a backlog problem if you simply look at the number of applications coming in, without effectively measuring efficiency. Therefore, Canada Immigration’s problem of backlog is illusory, if not totally misleading.

Just consider Canada Immigration’s claim, for example, that the new super visa application will take on average eight weeks to process. The same application forms will be filled out by the sponsors and their parents or grandparents, and similar proofs of identity, births, and other pertinent family data will be assessed. Yet, the super visa application will take only eight weeks to process, despite the additional requirements of buying Canadian medical insurance coverage and a medical examination.

The same requirements—8 weeks for a super visa to process and 8 years for sponsoring parents or grandparents.

This clearly indicates to us what the real purpose of the super visa application for parents and grandparents is. In effect, Canada Immigration is telling permanent residents and citizens that they don’t actually need to bring their loved ones in Canada to live with them. All they need is to visit, and they can stay for as long as two years, provided they have medical insurance and their sponsoring children have satisfied the low income cut-off. And they can always return again after leaving Canada because their visa will be valid for ten years. This moratorium is not a temporary pause, but a necessary conditioning of the minds of new Canadian permanent residents and citizens to accept the new order in Canada—the new policy on family reunification, which is exactly no reunification. The moratorium will surely be extended for another two or more years, especially if it works, and you have read it from this blog.

More roadblocks ahead

Intake of immigrants to Canada starting 2012 is already being significantly reduced. Whether these are foreign temporary workers, including live-in caregivers, and applicants for permanent residents.

Visas for foreign workers have already been relaxed by allowing temporary workers to stay for a maximum of four years, perhaps a concession to industry demand. The exodus of live-in caregivers has been slowed down by prolonging processing times for applications, both for first-time caregivers and caregivers applying for permanent resident status.

Most live-in caregivers waiting for the approval of their permanent resident status have already lapsed work permits and have been advised by Canada Immigration not to worry and that their work permits will be approved as soon as they are granted permanent status. Why would they still need open work permits when they are already permanent residents?

There is now a long delay in the processing of permanent resident applications by live-in caregivers, and it is unnecessarily tying them up indefinitely to their employers, even beyond their two-year work contract. This way, Canada Immigration is able to cut the supply of incoming caregivers by forcing those caregivers in the country and who are simply waiting for the approval of their permanent resident status to remain with their employers. This creates an illusion that the demand for caregivers by Canadian families is being met.

Closing the doors permanently to parents and grandparents is not possible under the current law without tinkering with the original make-up of Canadians to be allowed as permanent residents.

Will Canada, for example, disqualify applicants with older parents, such as those over 50 and above, or discriminate against married applicants with children and living grandchildren? To do this, the present law has to be amended to dispense with the objective of family reunification. A moratorium on parents and grandparents may appear reasonable and a super visa looks like a good thing in the interim.

Onerous obligations

But looking at the requirements that an applicant must meet in order to be eligible to apply for a super visa, there are at least three onerous obligations that need to be satisfied.

One, the sponsoring child or grandchild must provide a written commitment of financial support even though the low income cut-off is met. This is equivalent to a sponsorship undertaking or agreement when sponsoring a family member for permanent residence. This written commitment is unnecessary since the parent or grandparent will not be eligible for social assistance when they visit Canada.

Second, parents and grandparents must undergo medical examination, which is also a requirement under regular sponsorship. This process already takes a lot of time from the total of eight weeks allotted to complete the application.

And third, applicants or their sponsors must purchase comprehensive Canadian medical insurance, valid for at least one year. The medical insurance must provide a minimum of $100,000 in coverage and must cover the cost of the applicant’s health care, hospitalization and repatriation. The premium for this medical insurance will be a big burden for most parents and grandparents, or even to their sponsors.

Denial of right to sponsorship

Sponsorship of parents is critical to most new immigrants in this country, especially to those who have young children who can benefit from the care of their grandparents. These immigrants have contributed to the Canadian economy and many of them are on their track to citizenship; thus, they have earned the right to sponsor their parents. Yet, Canada Immigration is denying them this right and making it more difficult for parents to come here to reunite with their children and grandchildren on the pretext that they’re trying to fix the backlog problem.

We are living in critical times. The fragile world economy, the lingering eurozone crisis and the continuing joblessness in the United States, all help spur on immigration hysteria.

Advanced economies are closing their borders to the mass exodus of refugees from the Third World. Under the helm of the Conservative Party for the next four years, the Canadian government will stay on course with this trend of tightening its doors to prevent the influx of immigrants to this country.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Corruption takes a backseat


The arrest of former Philippine President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has caused an unnecessary public uproar, if not ambivalence. One side is almost ready to burn the former president at stake, declaring her guilty on all counts even without trial. While the rest call for slowing down the prosecution, reminding everyone that she is also entitled to a presumption of innocence.

But can a former head of state expect a fair public trial when it’s her political enemies who are in charge of the prosecution?
Former Philippine president Gloria Macapagal Arroyo is seen arriving on a
wheelchair at the Manila International Airport on Nov. 15, 2011. Photo by
 Noel Celis/AFPGetty Images. Click link to view "Gloria Arroyo charged with
 electoral sabotage,"
Just a wild thought: Wouldn’t it have been easier if Arroyo were lynched by a mob after being overthrown? Wouldn’t that be neat? Like Muammar Gadaffi when he was lynched by a mob of Libyan rebels in front of multiple cell phone cameras while the event was broadcast within hours all over the world. Or pretty much like every unpopular leader from Caligula to Ceaușescu after being deposed from power.

Filipinos can’t be blamed if they cry for blood. For years in power, Mrs. Arroyo had been suspected of plundering the economy to enrich herself and her own family. Remember all the scandals that plagued her administration, to mention just a few: the overpriced North Rail Project involving a $400 million loan from China's Export-Import Bank, the National Broadband Network (NBN) deal between the Philippine government and China’s ZTE Corporation, the ZTE-Mt. Diwalwal mining contract, bribery of members of Congress amounting to half a million pesos each to members of Congress in exchange for the dismissal of impeachment complaints against her, the so-called “Hello Garci” scandal wherein the President was caught on tape while tampering with the results of the 2004 elections, the fertilizer funds scandal which personally benefited Arroyo and some key officials of her government, and human rights violations, extra-judicial killings, enforced disappearances and torture of individuals opposed to her administration. All these happened while the poor majority of the Filipino people wallowed in poverty and the misery it breeds.

As president, Mrs. Arroyo was accused of rigging the electoral process so she could freely cheat and ensure that the election results would keep her in power. Four times Congress tried to impeach her but all failed because she had the money and political power to silence and derail members of Congress from acting.

Now that charges were brought against the former president preventing her from leaving the country, some have criticized the action of government as hasty and without due process. The culprit is now in police custody, yet holding her in captivity is being peddled as wrong and in violation of her legal rights. What’s wrong with this picture?

Imagine if former strongman Ferdinand Marcos had been captured while fleeing Malacañang during the final hours of the EDSA People Power revolution. He would have suffered the same fate as Gadaffi and the people would be rejoicing. The lynching of Gaddafi is the new standard for the treatment of deposed despots and it will be doubtlessly imitated by others.

The transgressions of the Marcos regime were no different from the Arroyo’s. Except this time, Gloria Arroyo has no more powerful friends left to save her. Any appearance of public lynching of Gloria Arroyo in the media is therefore understandable. Arroyo should be thankful that it is much more pacified and without the violent trappings of an actual mob lynching.

However, in spite of all the drama in prosecuting Gloria Arroyo for her past misdemeanour in office, the question that remains unanswered is, what happens now to President Noynoy Aquino’s crusade against graft and corruption?
Gloria Arroyo, the 'most hated' Phillipines leader since Marcos. Photo courtesy
of  The National Conversation. Click link to view "Unexplained wealth of President
 Gloria Arroyo,"
Arroyo has been charged with sabotaging the elections in 2007. Should Arroyo be convicted and sentenced to spend time in prison, her greater sin of economic plunder will remain unpunished. Is the Aquino government pursuing only the electoral charges against former President Arroyo because corruption is much more difficult to prove? That it would have a disrupting impact on government and a disincentive for future leaders? That it could possibly open a can of worms for the present administration when it leaves—that the successor regime might also consider prosecuting crimes of corruption and thus cause an endless cycle of partisan recriminations?

Everyone on the street will tell you unequivocally that all politicians steal, that no one is truly incorruptible. Not even President Noynoy Aquino. This is as much a way of life as it is the political culture in the country.

All past presidents have been dogged with rumours and allegations of corruption. No wonder, no president under the old Constitution was re-elected for a second term except for Ferdinand Marcos who knew how to wield and control the powers of the presidency for his own benefit. Every corrupt president did not merit re-election. There was no need for prosecution, the people could always boot out the incumbent every election. Thus, the presidency was a continuously revolving door, and corruption in government became part of the institution of the presidency.

With the present one-term limit for the president, this now appears too long for a corrupt president or for an ineffective leader. This is why many still favour the old system, a perpetual revolving door—a new president every four years. But Ferdinand Marcos broke the rule, except he did it differently. Marcos was also a dictator and he imposed his will on the people. Why he was never prosecuted in a Philippine court—for corruption, abuses, and all his crimes against the Filipino people—only shows the lingering influence of his regime over the country’s political and legal system. Consider, too, that members of his family and his former political allies are back in political power without any blemish of culpability for their role during the Marcos oppressive regime.
Former Philippine dictator Ferdinand Marcos. Courtesy of  wikicommons.
 Click link to view "Martial Law in the Philippines,  1972-1986,"
It seems easier for the present government to prosecute Gloria Arroyo for an electoral offence than corruption. There’s no need to disclose Arroyo’s network of irregular financial transactions that may also lead to the identification of people whom the government doesn’t want to embarrass, like foreign governments, financial institutions and contractors, or local businessmen and politicians. The government doesn’t have to inquire about the unexplained wealth of officials who run the military establishment who could be beneficiaries of Arroyo’s corruption, the very same people whose loyalty the present government needs to support and back up its administration. Proving corruption is a very complicated matter and may entail a long time to finish, perhaps even beyond the term of the present administration.

Noynoy Aquino wants Gloria Arroyo in jail before Christmas. This he can easily accomplish by sticking to the electoral offences against Arroyo. What easier accomplishment is there than putting a former president in prison for sabotaging the electoral process to ensure that she could stay in power?

Gloria Arroyo’s family and its minions would probably appease and take her conviction with less rancour. Their ill-gotten wealth remains in their hands, and there’s no urgent need to ask for presidential pardon. Politicians and businessmen who benefited from Arroyo’s corruption remain untouched or undisclosed, so the best thing for them is to simply keep quiet.

President Noynoy Aquino will always be loved by the Filipino people for putting in prison the person they hated most. Insofar as corruption is concerned, every person on the street will continue to talk about it. Ironically, the culture of corruption remains unscathed, and no sitting or former president will ever be put to trial on account of it.