The bubble has finally burst.
Philippine President Benigno Aquino III has failed to live up to expectations when he ran and won on an anti-corruption platform in 2010.
Remember the slogans ‘Daang Matuwid’ and ‘Walang Mahirap kung Walang Kurap’? (Righteous Path, There Be No Poor If There Is No Corruption)? These campaign battle cries were what were supposed to have separated him from the rest of the presidential candidates in 2010 which, ironically, included former president and now Manila mayor Joseph Estrada.
Aquino himself is now an object of vilification – his government being viewed as no different from the previous presidents Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and Estrada, who were both charged with plunder after their stints in Malacañang. The two former presidents suffered the ignominy of having their mug shots splashed over the press and subsequently detained in ‘hospital arrests’ following their indictments.
Both too, at one time, face impeachment proceedings while holding office.
While Arroyo escaped impeachment through sheer number of allies in the Philippine House of Representatives, Estrada was ousted by a popular revolt in the middle of the impeachment trial that reached the Philippine senate.
Aquino is unlikely to face impeachment in Congress but he may not escape charges when he steps down in 2016.
For all intents and purposes, he has already squandered the goodwill he earned from the landmark conviction of former Supreme Court Justice Renato Corona in the impeachment trial that Aquino doggedly pushed among his allies in Congress immediately after he assumed office.
Corona, an appointee of ex-President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, was seen as a major stumbling block in pursuing plunder cases against the former president.
Aquino succeeded in marshaling enough votes to indict and convict Corona.
But it is now getting clear that government resources may have been illegally used in ousting Corona.
That is in effect what the Philippine Supreme Court is saying if two Philippine senators, who are themselves now facing corruption and plunder charges along with Senator Juan Ponce Enrile, are to be believed.
Enrile, ironically, was the presiding judge of the Corona impeachment trial.
Senators Jinggoy Estrada and Ramon Revilla Jr claimed they received P50 million each from the disbursement acceleration program (DAP) funds six months before they voted to impeach Corona. Another P1.1 billion was also disbursed 6 months after Corona was convicted.
On Tuesday, the Aquino government got more than just a slap on the wrist when the Supreme Court ruled that DAP was unconstitutional.
The illegal re-alignment of government funds cannot be simply be taken as an oversight that is chargeable to ignorance of the law, as constitutionalist Fr. Joaquin Bernas said in a recent interview.
Rather, it was a conscious and deliberate move to get what the president wanted and to keep allies satisfied and fulfilled.
Everybody would have kept their peace and silence. After all, the Philippine Congress is one hell of a big largesse that victors in every Philippine election get to allocate by and for themselves.
But there are things and events that are simply providential.
One’s greed finally pricked the huge balloon of Philippine corruption.
When Janet Napoles abducted and detained his nephew over missing funds from their loot amassed from the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF), the pork barrel of Philippine legislators, little did she know that it created an explosion never before seen in the history of Philippine legislature.
And it unmasked Aquino as a counterfeit reformer and anti-corruption crusader.
You cannot use corrupt means to stop corruption.
From now on, there will be no more balloons to fly for Aquino.
They have burst.