Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro - - Opinion - OR­LANDO P. CARVAJAL Break Point

N he friendly game of mu­si­cal chairs, the win­ner is usu­ally the per­son who cuts in and shoves off the per­son com­pet­ing with her/him for the chair she/he is eye­ing to grab. The de­gree of shov­ing is in di­rect pro­por­tion to the prize at stake. The big­ger the prize the harder the shov­ing. The mu­sic and the play­ers can change but as long as the es­sen­tial struc­ture (chairs ar­ranged in a cir­cle) of the game is un­changed the win­ner will al­ways be the quick­est and hard­est shover.

If we, there­fore, want no push­ing (which by the way is the fun part) we have to change the game. This is ex­actly what hap­pens in the not-so-friendly high-stakes game be­ing played in gov­ern­ment de­part­ments and of­fices. No mat­ter who you put at Cus­toms, the BIR, the LTO, the PNP, etc., she/he will al­ways be vul­ner­a­ble to the temp­ta­tion to push morals aside be­cause the struc­ture of the po­lit­i­cal ver­sion of the game is essen­tially weak and shot full of holes.

Se­nate in­ves­ti­ga­tions, for in­stance, are sup­posed to be in aid of leg­is­la­tion. Yet so far they stop at pin­ning peo­ple down, rightly or wrongly, and get­ting them re­placed.

But be­cause they leave the struc­ture of the ques­tioned de­part­ments/ of­fices essen­tially un­changed, the re­place­ments soon suc­cumb to temp­ta­tion and be­come in turn tar­gets of of­fi­cial in­ves­ti­ga­tions.

Then there’s the Com­mis­sion on Ap­point­ments (CA) that re­jected four sec­re­taries who were do­ing an ex­cel­lent job at their posts as ben­e­fi­cia­ries of their de­part­ments claim. With­out say­ing those it con­firmed are pat­sies, this sus­pi­ciously could mean that the CA wants ap­pointees whom they feel could be swayed to widen the holes for them for their po­lit­i­cal and eco­nomic in­ter­ests.

All th­ese of­fices need re­struc­ture, their holes plugged and weak links welded with stricter im­ple­ment­ing rules and over­sight poli­cies. It is not enough to sim­ply change the play­ers.

As weak as the struc­tures are, it would take a saint to re­sist the temp­ta­tion to ex­ploit their gap­ing cheat-holes. The need for re­struc­ture goes up to the of­fices of the Chief Jus­tice, of the Se­nate Pres­i­dent, of the Speaker of the House and even of the Chief Ex­ec­u­tive. Th­ese po­si­tions pack too much power that an in­signif­i­cant few have so far been able to re­sist the op­por­tu­ni­ties for greed that big cheat-holes in the struc­ture of­fer.

At this level, re­struc­ture means a shift to fed­er­al­ism. And it is in­ter­est­ing to note that those who want Pres­i­dent Duterte ousted are openly against re­struc­ture.

They sim­ply want to take over and be the ones to wield the power and en­joy the priv­i­leges of high of­fices in gov­ern­ment.

We can­not have tra­di­tional politi­cians keep play­ing mu­si­cal chairs. Filipinos need es­sen­tial game changes to have any chance of win­ning. T’S hard to say when ef­forts to re­ha­bil­i­tate the Mar­cos name be­gan, but th­ese gained ground in 1992 when the dic­ta­tor’s son, Fer­di­nand Mar­cos Jr., won a seat in the Lower House, merely six years af­ter the fam­ily went into ex­ile. True, they con­tinue to face sev­eral cases, most of which cen­ter on their ill-got­ten wealth. Yet the Mar­coses have kept their baili­wick firmly in their grip, and Bong­bong Mar­cos’s sec­ond-place fin­ish in the May 2016 vice pres­i­den­tial elec­tion showed that the fam­ily’s re­turn to Mala­cañang was no longer far­fetched. Last Mon­day, this po­lit­i­cal re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion ef­fort struck again.

Guarded by 300 po­lice of­fi­cers and 100 soldiers, the Mar­cos fam­ily and their po­lit­i­cal al­lies and sup­port­ers gath­ered in the Libin­gan ng mga Bayani and cel­e­brated Fer­di­nand Edralin Mar­cos’s 100th birth an­niver­sary. His son, ac­cord­ing to the In­quirer, said that Mar­cos’s place in his­tory was “still be­ing writ­ten.” That is right, but the Mar­coses and their lack­eys and hacks need not be the only ones writ­ing it.

The late dic­ta­tor’s most avid sup­port­ers like to say that present-day Filipinos who have used or still use the Mar­cos regime’s in­fra­struc­ture projects—say, those who ride Metro Manila’s Light Rail Tran­sit—have no right to crit­i­cize him.

They fail to men­tion how much of tax­pay­ers’ funds ac­tu­ally went to the projects th­ese were in­tended for. They also fail to men­tion sev­eral court rul­ings, both here and abroad, that pointed to how the Mar­coses stashed away bil­lions of dol­lars that amounted to wealth far be­yond Fer­di­nand and Imelda’s salaries from 1966 to 1985.

In July 2003, for ex­am­ple, the Supreme Court for­feited in gov­ern­ment’s fa­vor some US$658 mil­lion from the late dic­ta­tor’s frozen Swiss bank de­posits.

How did he amass such a princely sum? The SC traced how the Mar­cos cou­ple “clan­des­tinely stashed away the coun­try’s wealth to Switzer­land and hid the same un­der lay­ers upon lay­ers of foun­da­tions and other cor­po­rate en­ti­ties to pre­vent de­tec­tion.” In some in­stances, the Mar­coses were di­rectly named as th­ese foun­da­tion’s ben­e­fi­cia­ries. In oth­ers, they used the aliases Wil­liam Saun­ders and Jane Ryan, which they had used in open­ing bank ac­counts in March 1968.

And that’s just the least of it. Did Mar­cos ac­com­plish any­thing in the nearly 21 years he was in power? Of course. But to claim that he was our best pres­i­dent and that he nei­ther en­abled nor com­mit­ted mas­sive cor­rup­tion is will­ful blind­ness, if not ag­gres­sive ig­no­rance.

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