A modest proposal for state-sponsored euthanasia
MANILA — It was a moro-moro, of course: the Binay clan throwing a tantrum over the Office of the Ombudsman’s decision to suspend Mayor Junjun Binay and 19 other city officials over alleged irregularities in the financing and constructing of the 10-story Makati Science High School building; the expected chorus of disapproving voices from administration higher-ups, insisting on the rule of law; and the acceptance the day after by the mayor of his suspension, following a show of resistance by the Binays and their camp followers that included scuffles with Philippine National Police. The vice-mayor much to the relief of many announced immediately that cakes would still be given to the citizens of that benighted city on their birthdays. I’ve always felt that this gesture while welcome is a bit incomplete. How about adding ice cream to the mix? Let them eat cake and ice cream!
The Binays were simply acting out their expected roles as traditional politicians after all, and in the dog-eat-dog world of politics, would have lost a lot of street cred had they obeyed the directive and allowed the courts to decide on the merits or demerits of the charges. Who after all obeys the law in this society? Only the powerless and the naïve, it seems. As Randy David, in his column “Public Lives,” writes incisively, “The official is so tightly folded into the personal that it becomes impossible to tell where one ends and the other begins. Every attempt to audit official performance is regarded as a personal attack, or an assault on the whole family.”
It could very well be that this faux drama could hurt Vice-President Jejomar Binay’s run for the presidency. After all, his and his son’s cavalier disregard for the law in this instance could prefigure what sort of president he would make. And it strengthens the numerous allegations of corruption lodged against the Veep.
On the other hand, how many pols with checkered pasts have nevertheless triumphed in their respective electoral contests? Exhibit A is former President Joseph Estrada. His conviction on plunder was no handicap in his winning the mayoralty of Manila—Manileños as with the rest of the country love, have, like the Supreme Being, infinite patience and love. As to Erap’s pledge not to run for public office as a condition of his pardon by his successor Gloria Macapagal Arroyo? Pffftt! Thus, the vice-president’s stock may have actually been boosted by this macho show of defiance.
David touches on an essential component of Philippine politics when he says that the charges against one Binay member are likely construed as “an assault on the whole family.” Quite a family: the patriarch is the VP: the wife used to be mayor of Makati, now the son is, albeit suspended; one daughter is a representative for Makati; and another daughter is a senator. Clearly, the family that polls together stays together. And of course such dynastically inclined families are no longer a novelty, and haven’t been for the longest time.
The irony here is that Vice-President Binay was appointed officer-in-charge of Makati when Cory Aquino took over from the late disgraced Ferdinand Marcos—Cory, the mother of the current president P-Noy, who may have once upon a time looked to Binay as an older brother, but who presumably now views him only as a huge bother.
Politics is big business particularly when the whole clan is involved. I’ve said this before in this space and I’ll say it again: kamaganakan is a major, if not the, major bane of Philippine society. Cory’s administration had as its slogan, Ang Bayan Muna Bago ang Sarili (Country First Before Self). A more accurate slogan would have been Ang Bayan Muna Bago ang Sariling Pamilya (Country First Before Family). Writ small, the Pinoy family is a blessing; writ large, it is a bane, becoming more of a family, Mafia-style.
The solution I’ve propounded in the past and in this space is still a valid one. Since it seems that we can’t rule ourselves and that we are our own worst enemies, ergo, the head of state should be a foreigner. Hire one beyond childbearing age (in the case of a male, he would need to be castrated), an orphan if possible. If he or she has relatives, kill them should they ever set foot on our native soil, sparing the rest of the country the pain of seeing political office handed down as a commodity. It would be in a sense euthanasia. Pay this head of state one percent of the annual budget, more than enough to guarantee a life of luxury. Maybe we should take it a step further and have this policy applied to all our legislators. Then only the truly noble, rather than the ignoble; the visionaries rather than the demented and the dull; the selfless rather than the selfish; the brave rather than the cowards will lead us into the light.
Copyright L.H. Francia 2015
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