Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Events that shape 2012 in the Philippines

2012 was the year when President Benigno S. Aquino III tightened the screws against perceived enemies of the administration. Despite repeated protests that it will worsen the state of relationship between the Executive and the Judiciary, Aquino pushed on and completed attacks against the former Chief of the Supreme Court, Renato Corona. Corona was deposed largely by a sympathetic Senate. He was replaced by Justice Sereno, whom many thought too young for the post and too close to the palace. Until now, Sereno has not repaired her ties with fellow justices who still refuse to share the stage with her every single flag-raising ceremony at the Supreme Court.

Worse, Sereno is now embroiled in a very embarrassing situation when she allegedly "faked" a Supreme Court resolution establishing a judicial council in the Visayas. She is being made to explain by her colleagues but she always manages to forego it. Her flagging techniques are irritating members of the Court who still see her as a stooge of the administration.

It seems that this administration is trailing its guns against remnants of the political forces which supported the previous dispensation still entrenched in the Visayas, specifically Cebu. Before Christmas, the DILG implemented an order of suspension against Cebu Governor Gwendolyn Garcia, whom the government accused of abuse of powers. Garcia was suspended for ninety days, enough to prevent her from using government resources to prop up her political allies in the island. Garcia refused to toe the DILG line, asking the court for reprieve. Seems like the new year will start with a political controversy, unless of course, Garcia finds someone close to Noynoy and enters into a political compromise. Sources however say, this is unlikely to happen since Garcia is really perceived as a strong political enemy by the Liberal Party in Cebu. In all likelihood, Garcia will eventually be forced to vacate her post.

Garcia is claiming to be an administration ally but she is not. She belongs to the UNA, a party which is being run by Vice President Jejomar Binay. Binay's party has recruited the best oligarchs and political heavyweights in every province in time for his bid to the presidency by 2016. Garcia's vaulted political influence in Cebu has not escaped the eye of the former Makati mayor whose popularity continues to amuse the minds of political observers.

What is so surprising is the fact that former Arroyo men are being recruited or has jumped into the UNA bandwagon, something which has surprised many loyal UNA "survivors". It seems that the policy is not of attrition, but of "addition without principles" something which leaves a very bad taste in the mouth. This early, we see a Binay presidency without the moral backbone.

Speaking of morals in governance, we mourn the passing of Ramon Magsaysay awardee Jesse Robredo. Robredo died in a plane crash. The nation wept at his death, an untimely one since many regard Robredo as a paragon of new politics, something greatly needed by this country. In his lifetime, Robredo showed how honorable public service really is, something which boosted the feelings and trust of many behind governmental institutions. Robredo was a great example of a man whose actions were always, always imbued with principles. He lived a frugal and honest life, something which we never saw in other government officials.

With Robredo's death, the complexion of the DILG changed. Robredo's time, there was a perception that the agency was being used to serve the people. Now, under the helm of former presidentiable Mar Roxas, this agency is now being considered as a springboard for the 2016 candidacy of Roxas.

There is no doubt at all that Roxas is really hell-bent in gaining a strong political foothold before 2016. The thing is, some observers say, he lacks the political intuition of a Robredo and the political savvy-ness of a Binay. He continues to be perceived as a weak political force, something which he needs to address very early in the game. Yes, the DILG, when handled properly, could actually boast his chances. He should have put his foot down and transformed Mindanao into a mini-Marshall plan area.