[OPINION] Filipinos’ fight vs corruption: What happens when a presidential candidate seems to be part of the problem and not the solution?

Philippine presidential contender Bongbong Marcos

CORRUPTION has been the chronic illness that has plagued the Philippines for a long time, and in each and every election cycle, we hear candidates for president vow to end corruption and yet the problem has persisted and the prognosis did not look good.

In fact, corruption has become systemic, and its toxicity has been eating up most part of the Philippine government from top to bottom.

Corruption has been the very reason why the rich become richer and the poor become poorer. People in government have been accorded with public trust to make sure that it serves the people well with the taxpayers’ money entrusted to the public officials, in order to deliver basic services to the people.

Public officials vow to represent the interest of the people and make the government the equalizer to give those who are poor and less privileged access to quality education, good healthcare and job opportunities that will help lift their family up from poverty and despair.

In a healthy democracy, erring corrupt public officials are held accountable for their actions. They are fired, imprisoned, impeached, barred from ever running for public office again.

We know that the health and wellness of Philippine democracy has reached its terminal stage when the government officials who were charged and convicted in criminal courts of abusing their power to enrich themselves have made their way back to power without shame nor remorse.

And perhaps the biggest blow to our system has been self-inflicted when the public officials tasked to protect the integrity of our democracy have abandoned the checks and balances requirement of the Constitution and allowed the bereaved family of the Dictator Ferdinand E. Marcos, who we ousted through the People Power of 1986, has found its way back to power as elected government officials – from Imelda Marcos to Imee Marcos to Bongbong Marcos.

After Bongbong Marcos lost to Leni Robredo for the Vice Presidency in 2016, the family contracted the services of Cambridge Analytica to “rebrand” the Marcos Family. They sure did great PR work, revised history and make the Marcoses the “victims” and the heroes, and their political nemesis — the Aquinos and the Liberal Party became the villain.

Their investment paid off. Bongbong became an early favorite to become the 17th President of the Philippines. Shortly after the son of the dictator filed his certificate of candidacy to run for President, he found himself running against Leni Robredo again.

Robredo initially did not want to run for President but with Bongbong formally declaring his intention to go back to Malacañang, Robredo heeded the calling to run against Marcos to save our democracy.

The campaign of Bongbong Marcos doubled down on the use of fake news, paid trolls to discredit Leni Robredo. Everything seemed to be working in his favor, his leading the polls despite of Robredo running against him made him the front runner, until the official start of the campaign season.

As Leni Robredo endeared herself to the Filipino people as she and her running mate Kiko Pangilinan went around the country talking about their platform of “gobyernong tapat” para “angat buhay lahat” [clean honest government to lift the lives of all Filipinos] in their caravans and political rallies, the truth about Bongbong Marcos and his family has also found its way out to the people’s awareness despite the Marcoses attempt to conceal and deny the facts about the corruption of the Marcos family and their minions.

Filipinos petitioned the COMELEC to disqualify Marcos from running for President but the COMELEC leadership appointed by Rodrigo Duterte ruled to trash the petition after the retirement of COMELEC Commissioner Rowena Guanzon.

Guanzon were among those who have been vocal about her stand that Marcos should be disqualified for moral turpitude, a position that was shared by Former Supreme Court Justice Antonio Carpio and Former PCGG Commissioner Ruben Carranza, among others, who were knowledgeable about the law and the Marcos Family’s transgressions against the Filipino people.

Through investigative reports, fact checking and the boldness to bring the truth out to the public, we learned that Bongbong Marcos did not only fail to pay his income taxes for several years when he was Vice-Governor and later Governor of Ilocos Norte, he was also the key administrator of the Marcos heirs who owe the Philippine government P 203 Billion in estate taxes with interests and penalty since Marcos’ death in 1989.

We also found out that the Marcos family still owes the Philippine government P 125 Billion ill-gotten wealth. So the total amount being stolen from the Filipino people that should otherwise go to providing help and services to the people now stands at P398 Billion.

Justice Carpio and Former BIR Commissioner Kim Henares warned that if Marcos wins, we may never be able to collect that money that the Marcoses owe us, especially with Bongbong’s expressed intent to “recreate” the PCGG which he said was anti-Marcos.

The Marcos Family and their cohorts have been calling these reporting fake news despite the evidence, in their desperate attempt to keep the Marcos Loyalists. They also doubled down on fabricating fake news to scare the people away from Robredo, with the help of no less than President Rodrigo Duterte himself, red tagging Robredo and many of her supporters. After all, his daughter Sara is running as VP of Bongbong Marcos.

Bongbong Marcos and his campaign as well as the Trapos in government especially the family dynasties, have also been projecting their own corrupt election practices on to Robredo’s campaign when they were the ones who were violating election rules against vote buying, hakot and other dirty political tactics, even paying people to pose for pictures pretending to be Leni supporters getting paid just to give the suggestion that Leni is corrupt as well. These were all documented on video but COMELEC has not acted on these violations up to now.

Bongbong Marcos said “Yung corruption, talagang hindi matitigil yan, as I keep reminding everyone, corruption is not a Filipino condition. It is a human condition… At a high level of government, ang talagang kailangan ay mamili ka ng magaling na tao na alam mong hindi corrupt”.
That is exactly the problem because Bongbong seems to be part of the problem, and not the solution, to chronic corruption.

And that is also exactly why the pink wave of Leni Robredo and Kiko Pangilinan’s advocacy for “Gobyernong Tapat” has shifted the momentum to their campaign, going full speed toward the finish line on May 9, 2022. Then, and only then, can we put an end to IMPUNITY: exemption from punishment, harm, loss, or freedom from the injurious consequences of an action. Let this be the defining moment in our nation’s history.

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The opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed by the author do not necessarily reflect the opinions, beliefs and viewpoints of the Asian Journal, its management, editorial board and staff.

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Gel Santos Relos has been in news, talk, public service and educational broadcasting since 1989. She was a news anchor, TV host and radio commentator and public service host for ABS- CBN and DZMM. She is now working on her advocacies independently, serving the Filipino audience using different  media platforms. You may contact her through email at [email protected], or send her a message via Facebook at Facebook.com/Gel.Santos.Relos. Also on Twitter, Instagram: Gel Santos Relos

Gel Santos Relos

Gel Santos Relos is the anchor of TFC’s “Balitang America.” Views and opinions expressed by the author in this column are solely those of the author and not of Asian Journal and ABS-CBN-TFC. For comments, go to www.TheFil-AmPerspective.com and www.facebook.com/Gel.Santos.Relos

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