What are we in power for?

It did not have a pejorative meaning but after its initial utterance, the question, “what are we in power for?” has always been the norm from administration to administration in justifying acts of omission or commission by incumbents.  Jose Avelino, the first Senate President of the Third Republic and a Liberal, asked the question then.

It did not have a pejorative meaning but after its initial utterance, the question, “what are we in power for?” has always been the norm from administration to administration in justifying acts of omission or commission by incumbents.  Jose Avelino, the first Senate President of the Third Republic and a Liberal, asked the question then.

“Avelino was speaking at a party caucus in Malacañang and expressing his resentment over the investigation of some officials’ moneymaking activities. Unaware that two journalists were on the sidelines, he was lecturing President Elpidio Quirino on the realities of Philippine politics: “Why should we pretend to be saints when in reality we are not? We are not angels. When we die we will all go to hell. It is better to be in hell because in that place there are no investigations, no secretary of justice, no secretary of the interior to go after us.  When Jesus Christ died on the cross, He made a distinction between the good crook and the bad crook. We can aspire to be good crooks. Replying, President Quirino said, I am no saint, but when public opinion demands an investigation, we have to go through the formality of ordering one.”

After 65 years, it seems LP just went on hibernation and upon assumption to power, continued living with its avowed doctrine.  Try as I must in understanding LP since I have reform-minded friends there, I just can’t find any semblance of “marangal” since 2010 to the present, it has consciously set aside fairness, operated on lies and spins, perfected propaganda and passes it “truths” in briefings and they just do what they please.

The Corona impeachment was a welcome development since for the first time there was show of political will.  But the events leading to the impeachment showed the famous LP doctrine in play.  What are we in power for?  We can remove a sitting Chief Justice and use the instrumentalities of the government to get it done fast.  What are we in power for? We can cherry pick whom we can file cases re PDAF only covering Php10 Billion and only partial of the total releases to Janet Napoles.  Revilla, Estrada and Enrile are guilty until proven innocent.  What are we in power for? We can declare savings even while no appropriation cover has been made and gather funds from P/S, MOOE and CO to form DAP and justify DAP as an economic stimulus.  What are we in power for? We can have a hearing by the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee and defend DAP.  It was truly a good production with the full cabinet in display.

What are we in power for? All presidential appointees are innocent until proven guilty.  What are we in power for? Cabinet secretaries resign when president says so.  What are we in power for? A 269-page ERRATA in the proposed GAA 2015 that constitutes additional pork.

This Aquino administration has never been about fairness.  But sometimes you never know who calls the shots. Can an Aquino be at the helm of all these insidious plays? And that’s the danger when ranking members of LP pushed then Sen. Noynoy Aquino to the presidential arena because it was all about winning and never of governance.  As one LP official loves to say, “bahala na si batman.” Indeed, being in power after years of riding a Volkswagen is exhilarating.

Where are we with DAP? After a single hearing, no complete data has been made public despite the promises that documents will be given.  The administration claims honor when talk moves into Open Governance and yet simple documents can’t be released completely and timely.  A cursory review DAP documents showed that projects revolved around 33 areas: roads (318 projects amounting to Php2,000,280,873); barangay roads (506 projects amounting to Php1,279,329,000); livelihood (98 projects, Php1,226,793,829); flood control system (175 projects, Php1,887,128,000 of which Metro Manila had 13 projects with a total budget of Php142,800,000); multi-purpose building (409 projects, Php875,505,8330); social services program (159 projects, Php867,735,800); scholarships (211 projects, Php782,658,300); medical assistance/equipment/building (493 projects, Php755,922,100); comprehensive integrated delivery of social service (117 projects, Php581,232,600); water system (91 projects, Php532,727,607); bridges (83 projects, Php513,588,000); financial assistance to LGUs (124 projects, Php487,713,780); school/classroom building/equipment (147 projects, Php452,577,941); other agri-related (53 projects, Ph303,750,000); public market (215 projects, Php236,750,000); convention center (3 projects, Php152,000,000); other projects (53 projects, Php141,678,083); unspecified priority programs, Php135,628,575); vehicles (25 units, Php110,310,100); sports development (34 projects, Php77,907,424); Philhealth insurance implementation; LGU infrastructure; alternative learning system; youth homes; farm-to-market roads; health centers; ambulance; IT; streetlights; baywalk/footbridges; rural electrification; barangay halls; multipurpose payments and irrigation.

What are we in power for? Leadership of both houses allow the subjugation of the Legislative Branch with whatever the Executive wants.  The Senate’s luster as supposedly the training grounds of presidential candidates is now the breeding ground of demolition experts, specialists on inquisitions and dictatorial tendencies, all twisting the law and setting basic and constitutional rights just to get the leader of the 2016 pack out of the race.  Not having a candidate strong enough to face a fair political contest, LP is now throwing everything to Binay and the scenarios are truly getting wild. I hope Roxas will not experience another political tsunami within because of another big player interested for the top position.

How much of taxpayers’ money is being spent to get Binay at any cost? At 10 hearings and counting, I would venture a range of Php500,000 to a million per hearing at an average of 5 hours per hearing.  That’s a whopping Php10 million already.  The amount covers fixed and direct costs plus incidental expense.  Fixed would include MOOE and salaries and wages of staff and officers of the Blue Ribbon Committee (BRC) under the Senator’s budget and the secretariat’s BROOM office serving as technical support office for the BRC.  Direct expenses would include meals served, electricity and air-condition and cost for serving subpoena.  Despite BRC having a permanent hearing room assigned to it, the 3-man subcommittee prefers the plenary hall.  Incidental expense covers power consumption of equipment utilized by several networks covering the hearings.  Transportation and gasoline are additional expenses.  Then there is the 24/7 posting of Senate guards to protect the witnesses.  Provision of unlimited food and overtime pay.  A huge amount is also allotted to the safe house of witnesses.  Three to five days were allegedly spent in a hotel at the Bonifacio Global City then these witnesses were reportedly transferred to a condo unit in Taguig.  So whose ballgame is get Binay?

What are we in power for? Blame it all to GMA!

About the Author
Malou Tiqiua is the Founder/General Manager of PUBLiCUS Asia Inc. A noted political management expert in the Philippines and Asia, she brings over 20 years of professional experience in public, private and the academe combined. Author of the comprehensive book on electoral campaigns in the Philippines, "Campaign Politics", Malou is a graduate of the University of the Philippines with a Political Science degree and a Master of Public Administration. She completed her second master's degree (MA in Political Management) from the Graduate School of Political Management, George Washington University.
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