Adverse Extremes Perpetrated by the Rich Ruling Class of the Philippines

Senators Allan Peter Cayetano and Antonio Trillanes IV (photo from facebook)

Vice-president Jejomar Binay, Sr. (Left, photo from MSN)

The rich ruling class has dominated Philippine society


Killing of Andres Bonifacio and his brother, Procopio

The rich ruling class of the Philippines emerged right during the Philippine revolution of 1896-98 against Spain.

This rich ruling class showed up in Cavite province. Andres Bonifacio was then the Supremo of Katipunan. He was a native of Tondo, Manila. He belonged in a poor family, one of seven brothers. They were orphaned when they were still young. As bread winner he got employment in a factory in Manila. He learned how to read and write largely on his own. He read the novels of Jose Rizal (Noli Me Tangere and El Filibusterismo), Uncle Tom’s Cabin of Breecher Stow and a book of Mark Twain. (Rizal's novels were written in Spanish).

He was one of the organizers of Katipunan, a secret revolutionary society patterned after masonry. When he saw that the incumbent president was slow in propagating Katipunan he took over the leadership.

Bonifacio sought the advice of Rizal on armed revolution against Spain through Pio Valenzuela who went to Dapitan where Rizal was exiled. Rizal advised against it, saying that the revolutionaries were not yet ready, being too few and without arms.

When the Spaniards discovered the existence of Katipunan in August 1896, the Katipuneros came out to fight the Spaniards and Filipino mercenaries.

There was a quarrel between two camps of Katipunan in Cavite province. It was between Magdalo and Magdiwang. Some leaders there called on Bonifacio to intercede and settle their differences.

In Tejeros, Cavite Bonifacio gathered the Magdalo and Magdiwang to a conference.

Upon the instigation of some rich Cavite leaders, the purpose of the Tejeros conference was changed. It turned into an election of new leaders of Katipunan. Bonifacio did not have a large contingent for this purpose because he came over to help settle the dispute between Magdalo and Magdiwang. The group of Bonifacio was outvoted over the agenda of the conference.

Emilio Aguinaldo, son of a rich family, a teacher, and leader of the successful Katipuneros that had so far engaged Spanish troops was voted president of Katipunan.

Bonifacio, the erstwhile Katipunan Supremo, was voted Director of the Interior.

However, Daniel Tirona (from Cavite) raised a question about the election of Bonifacio. He said that the Department of Interior has a large responsibility so that it should be held by an officer who had a diploma in law. He said Bonifacio did not have that education that he was not qualified for the position.

Bonifacio, realizing that he was trapped by the rich who dominated the conference, declared the conference null and void.

"I, as chairman of this assembly and as President of the Supreme Council of the Katipunan, as all of you do not deny, declare this assembly dissolved, and I annul all that has been approved and resolved."

The rich supporters of Aguinaldo convinced him that Bonifacio was a threat to his leadership and success of the revolution. Aguinaldo allowed them to pursue Bonifacio and capture him. Bonifacio and his brother, Procopio, were captured and killed by musketry.

The group of Aguinaldo, composed of rich Filipinos, took over the leadership of the Katipunan.

Murder of Gen. Antonio Luna

Gen. Luna was in charge of preparing Central Luzon for the defense against the Americans. He received a notice from Pres. Aguinaldo summoning him to report in Cabanatuan City, the capital of the Philippine government. Gen. Luna was hesitant, nevertheless he embarked to Cabanatuan City in obedience to Pres. Aguinaldo. When he arrived in Cabanatuan, Gen. Aguinaldo did not welcome him in person. One of those who received him was a high official in the army whom he had dismissed earlier for cowardice. Reportedly, he slapped this man demanding explanation why he is still around as high official. This man stabbed Gen. Luna. Whereupon more men came forward and stabbed Gen. Luna who sustained 40 wounds resulting in his death

Gen. Aguinaldo did not order for an investigation of the killing of Gen. Antonio Luna and his killers went unpunished.

Council of elders

The first constitutional convention of the first Philippine Republic was convened in January 1899 held in Malolos, Bulacan. Most delegates came from the well-to-do families, landholders and former officials of the Spanish colonial administration. Some of them were former negotiators on the part of Spain who had turned loyalties when the authority of Spain was finally cut off.

The delegates hammered out a republican constitution, the first of its kind in colonized Asia.

However, the dominance of the rich delegates showed up. One provision of the Malolos constitution is the creation of a Council of Elders. When Congress is on recess, the Council of Elders takes its place. That is, the Council of Elders work like Congress and its enactments have the full force of acts enacted by Congress in regular or special session.

And who would comprise the Council of Elders? It would be constituted by the rich members of Congress.

Platt amendment

Included in the ruling class of the Philippines are officials of the United States. The reason is that they dominate the officials of the Philippines on the affairs of the country, especially foreign affairs and trade.

In the Teheran conference participated in by Pres. Franklin D. Roosevelt of the United States, Winston Churchill, prime minister of England and Joseph Stalin, premier of USSR, it was decided that lesser countries will be made to amend their constitution to allow the superpowers to exploit their natural resources and engage in retail trade.

The Philippines that gained independence from USA in 1946 immediately amended its constitution (installed in 1935 when it attained the status of commonwealth) to allow the US to exploit its natural resources and engage in retail business. These were called Platt amendments to which Filipinos objected to no avail (Agoncillo. T. A. A History of the Filipino People. 1990).

The Platt amendment was ratified in a plebiscite. Filipino officials campaigned hard for it. There were Filipinos who voted against it but most of them voted for it.

One may argue that the Philippines had the same fate like other less powerful countries. The Philippines was not in a position to resist.

Resistance would mean reprisals from the superpowers like economic sanctions, no foreign aid, isolation and impoverishment.

Trumped up crimes of Luis Taruc and Lava brothers

Luis Taruc, Dr. Jesus Lava and Jose Lava were leaders of the the Hukbo ng Bayan Laban sa Hapon (HUKBALAHAP). This was a group of Filipino guerrillas in Central Luzon that engaged the Japanese occupation forces in WWII in guerrilla warfare. It was in favour of land reform, Central Luzon (Tarlac province, Pampanga, Nueva Ecija, Nueva Viscaya, Bulacan) being heavily tenanted. Large tracks of land are owned by a few landlords.

In the first national election held after the Philippines gained independence from the United States on July 4,1946, Taruc and the Lavas ran for seats in the Lower House of Philippine Congress. They won. However, crimes like electron fraud, collaboration with the Japanese were trumped up against them, instigated by the United States. This was along the US policies, to wit:

“If conservative nationalists likely to shift the economic assets of a new state from the old colonial power toward the United States dominated the resistance, as in Dutch East Indies, Washington was anti colonial and pro-independence. Where, on the other hand, the Left controlled the resistance and had a mass base, the United States recommended trusteeship or a prolonged but ‘liberalized’ continuation of colonialism, as in Indochina and Korea” (Kolko, J. and G. Kolko. “Korea, 1945-1948: The American Way of Liberation.” The Limits of Power. 1972: 277-299).

In South Korea that was occupied by the Americans, the American Military Group (AMG) reversed the land distribution for free. "The AMG consistently opposed land reform of any kind and shelved even modest reform proposals for the Japanese-owned land, the best available, which the occupation had confiscated" (Kolko, J. and G. Kolko, 1972:288).

Philippine Congress then was dominated by the rich ruling class.

Luis Taruc and Jose Lava were captured, tried and imprisoned. ‘Taruc was the first to surrender; he surrendered to former senator Benigno Aquino, Jr., according to Nilo Tayag.

[Tayag was former head of the Kabataang Makabayan, former member of the Pulitboro of the new Communist Party of the Philippines. He was captured, tried and jailed then released to propagate the kind of land reform the dictator Marcos wanted. He is now a bishop of the Philippine Independent Church or Aglipayan, a leader propagating the ideology of Filipinism.]

Exclusion of sugar land and fruit tree lands from land reform

Pres. Diosdado Macapagal supported the promulgation of a nationwide land reform program in the Philippines in 1960s. A land reform law was passed that included only rice lands. Members of Congress who were also landlords blocked the inclusion of sugar lands and fruit tree lands (coconut lands) from land reform.

Implementation of land reform law had been hampered by lack of funds. Such funds are allocated by Congress dominated by the rich ruling class.

As of June 30,2014, the land reform law was terminated. Tenant farmers lobbied Congress for its extension to no avail.

Marcos dictatorship

The Marcos dictatorship is an example of extreme act that the rich ruling class is capable of inflicting on the poor masses. Marcos mastered the dynamics of a rich ruling class and used it for his purposes. There is a petty rivalry among members of the rich ruling class like former senator Benigno Aquino, Jr. challenging the leadership of Ferdinand Marcos, Sr.

Telephone monopoly

From early 1900 up until 1991, the telephone system in the Philippines was analog. It was a monopoly of the Philippine Long Distance Telephone company owned by the Cojuangco family. (The Cojuangco family also owns Hacienda Luisita). Of course, land lines were used. Your application for a connection will take about three years for your home set to be installed. Worse, you would be sharing one line with at least three party lines. If you were the latest to dial in you would have to wait for the first two to finish before you can make a connection. You may have to quarrel with the other user if he or she takes too long a time on the phone. This was a throw-back for foreign investors in the country: bad communication system. It contributed a lot to the backwardness of the country.

It was Pres. Fidel V. Ramos who lead the opening up of the Philippines to modern digital communication system (cellphones). Pres. Ramos graduated in West Point, military school of America, major in engineering. He, together with Juan Ponce Enrile and Gregorio Honasan, started the EDSA People Power in 1985 that ensconced Corazon Cojuangco Aquino as president of the Philippines. Pres. Cory appointed him as chief of staff of the Armed Forces. Already retired from the army, he ran for president and won in 1990.

Central bank of the Philippines

It used to be that the President of the Philippines and Congress also participated in the monetary policies of the country. That power has been transferred to the Central Bank of the Philippines or Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP).

A new law creating BSP was promulgated during the incumbency of Pres. Fidel V. Ramos in the 1990s. BSP is patterned after the Federal Reserve Bank of the United States. The FED is a private bank of internationalist businessmen that control the economy of the United States (Mullins, Eustace. Secrets of the Federal Reserve Bank. Internet. Nov. 22,2014).

BSP is the conduit of the World Bank in controlling the economy of the Philippines. Economic policies are out of the jurisdiction of the President of the Philippines. The President appoints the chairman and members of the Board of BSP but once appointed they are independent from the president and congress of the Philippines and supine to the World Bank.

If not for the collaboration of rich ruling class of the Philippines, the BSP would not have been possible.

Impeachment of Gloria

There is an allegation that former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo cheated in the 2010 elections. It is believed that Fernando Poe, Jr. won but was cheated during the election and in the counting of votes.

When Gloria was already sitting as president somebody released a tape recording of a telephone call made by Gloria to a commissioner of the Commission on Election (Comelec). This is a constitutional body that the call of Gloria when the winner was not yet known was uncalled for. This incident is called “Hello Garci” after the name of the Comelec commissioner, Guillermo Garcillano. Gloria admitted that she made that call in a televised public apology. This apology was made with a calculated minimum of risk that an impeachment case would be filed against Gloria.

Unfortunately, Poe, Jr. died of hemorrhagic stroke seven months after the election that he could not pursue an election protest against Gloria.

When counting of votes was over, it appeared that no one voted for Fernando Poe, Jr. in several precincts in Luzon and Mindanao. There were rumors of an impeachment case being filed against Gloria. If a case were filed, Gloria would be impeached by the Lower House, then tried by the Senate sitting as a court. But none was filed because Philippine Congress was dominated by the allies of Gloria. That is, the rich ruling class protects its own kind, especially if the member serves as a glue to whom most of them could stick with for protection and enhancement of their positions.

PDAF

In 1990s Congress passed the Program for Development Assistance Fund (PDAF). The Supreme Court did not pose a challenge as to its constitutionality. The Catholic church did not challenge it as immoral either.

PDAF allots Php 200 million to each senator to fund projects anywhere in the country. It also allots Php 70 million to each representative for projects in their district. The senator and representative control their PDAF budget by choosing the project to fund. Graft and corruption had been built into PDAF.

In brief the mechanism goes this way. The senator or representative comes up with a project to fund. Or some constituents appear to request for financial support for a project. The senator or representative allocates funds for the project. It is coursed through a department of the government, the budget request is accompanied with a name of a non-government organization (NGO) to implement the project. The Department of Budget and Management releases the budget that eventually lands in bank account of the NGO. This NGO withdraws the budget and appears to run the project. Actually, the NGO makes a list of employees, some of whom are fictitious, or names of people in the telephone book are included. The staff of the NGO sign for the names of fictitious employees, including their salaries and expenses in project activities and purchases. Some aspects of the project are accomplished but most are not.

The purported expenses for the fictitious employees and ghost deliveries of materials are pocketed by the officials of NGO (some of which are registered, others are fake), and the senator or representative who gave the PDAF allocations.

Some Php 10 billion has been embezzled this way, according to the Commission on Audit. Three senators with high probability of their involvement in this scam are now in jail. Some officials of NGOs are also in jail. More senators and representatives will be charged for PDAF scam, according to the Ombudsman, in charge of filing charges against government officials.

With the discovery of the PDAF scam and owing to public outcry, the Catholic church came out to declare that PDAF is immoral. No member of Congress filed a resolution for the abolition or amendment of PDAF. Pres. Aquino III announced the abolition of PDAF a few days before a mammoth rally in Manila could take to the streets on August 26,2013. It was an obvious move to steal the wind from the sail of public outcry against PDAF. In November 2013, the Supreme Court ruled that PDAF is unconstitutional.

Expiration of land reform law

The land reform law that covers rice lands only was terminated in June 30, 2014. Now there is no more land reform law to speak of. This comes during the administration of Pres. Benigno Simeon C. Aquino III whose family partly owns the Hacienda Luisita composed of 6,400 hectares. Some 1000 hectares have been ruled for distribution to tenants by the Supreme Court when Renato Corona was chief justice.

Congress during this term of Pres. Aquino III is homogenous as shown by the impeachment of Renato Corona, former chief justice of the Supreme Court, because of a false entry in his statement of assets, liabilities and net worth.

That homogeneity could have passed a new land reform law that includes all rice lands, sugar lands and coconut lands. But being members of the rich ruling class whose bases of power are vast tracks of land awarded by the king of Spain they have used that power to allow the termination of any land reform law altogether.

The rich ruling class has consolidated more power than when the land reform law for rice lands was still existing.

Dynasties

There is an anti-dynasty law. However, dynasties have proliferated. Jejomar Binay, Jr. is mayor of Makati City; Eunice Binay is a representative sitting in the Lower House; Nancy Binay is a senator; Jejomar Binay, Sr. is vice president of the Philippines. Allan Peter Cayetano is a senator; Pia Cayetano, his sister, is also a senator. Joseph Estrada is mayor of Manila; Jinggoy Estrada, his son is a senator; JV Ejercito, half brother of Jinggoy, is also a senator; one mistress of Joseph Estrada is mayor of San Juan City.

Ferdinand Marcos, Jr is a senator; Imelda Romualdez Marcos, widow of the dictator Marcos, is a representative for Ilocos Norte; Imee Marcos is governor of Ilocos Norte.

These are the prominent dynasties, there are more of them, in mockery of the anti-dynasty law.

Pardon of Joseph Estrada

Joseph Estrada was baptized Joseph Ejercito. He was a college dropout. He went into acting in the movies but he was not allowed to use “Ejercito” as screen name. He used Joseph Estrada instead. He played roles as champion of the poor and downtrodden. The masses identified with his roles. Such identification catapulted Joseph Estrada as mayor of San Juan City, as senator, as vice president then as president of the Philippines. For participating in the traditional politics of the Philippines, Estrada has joined the ruling class of the Philippines.

In the third year of his six-year term as president the economy of the country plunged owing to his mismanagement. He was also charged of involvement in “hueteng,” an illegal numbers game; embezzlement of tobacco subsidy, giving room for insider information in stocks trading for his associates, and accepting bribes. The House of Representatives impeached him; his case was tried by the Senate that has the power to act as judge in impeachment cases.

The trial came into an impasse because Estrada’s allies in Senate voted 11-10 not to open an envelop containing evidence of plunder, the crime that Estrada was being tried. In the night of the impasse anti-Estrada forces gathered at the EDSA, site of People’s Power, and before dawn marched toward Malacañang Palace, residence and office of the president of the Philippines. The throng lead by then vice-president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, and former president Fidel V. Ramos demanded the resignation of Estrada. Estrada stepped down issuing a letter of going “on leave” as president. It was actually a coup because at that time the chief of staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines withdrew his support for Estrada, the Secretary of National Defense likewise withdrew his support. Gloria was sworn in as new president to serve the remaining three years of the supposed six years of Estrada. So Estrada was not ousted by impeachment.

The trials on charges of fund embezzlement and bribes proceeded. In five years of trial and imprisonment Estrada was convicted of plunder and sentenced to 40 years imprisonment.

In a few months Gloria pardoned Estrada. Among provisions of the pardon is: “He (Estrada) is now restored to his civil and political rights.” (It should be noted that this provision does not say "absolute" or "unconditional").

If Estrada were impeached, pardoning him would be illegal. His conviction by a special court, Sandiganbayan, qualifies him for a presidential pardon.

What could be the motive of Gloria in pardoning Estrada? The pardon of Estrada was part of a grand political strategy to split the opposition vote in the presidential election of 2010. Estrada was allowed by the Commission on Election with a no-decision such as “let the voters decide.” That is, if voters voted for Estrada in the 2010 election he is qualified to run for the presidency. This is a reverse logic, putting the horse ahead of the calesa (cart).

Split of the opposition vote would ensure the victory for the candidate of Gloria for president. This line of reasoning has precedents in history. Remember the US presidential election in 1860? The Republican Party had one candidate: Abraham Lincoln. The Democratic Party had two candidates: Stephen Douglas (of northern states) and John C. Breckinridge (of southern states). Lincoln won. (Lincoln went on to abolish slavery and save USA from being torn apart into two nations: United States of America and Confederate States of America).

Recall the presidential election in the Philippines after the term of Pres. Corazon C. Aquino. The candidates for president in 1990 were: Imelda Romualdez Marcos, Ramon Mitra, Jovito Salonga, Fidel V. Ramos, Salvador Laurel and Miriam Defensor-Santiago. The candidate of the ruling party was Mitra. However, Pres. Cory endorsed Ramos who had just organized a new political party. (One main consideration could be that as Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces, Gen. Ramos saved the Cory administration from seven coup attempts led by Col. Gregorio Honasan). Ramos garnered only 21% of votes cast but each of the other candidates got less votes. Ramos won the election.

Back to the 2010 election. There were eight opposition candidates: Benigno Simeon C. Aquino III, Joseph Estrada, Manny Villar, Richard Gordon, Jamby Madrigal, Nicanor Perlas, John Carlos de los Reyes and Eddie Villanueva. If each of these candidates took a block of the opposition vote no one could corner a block big enough to overcome the vote for the lone administration candidate. The opposition vote was broken up alright but the approval rating of the administration had shrunk too low. Aquino III (opposition) garnered the highest number of votes; Estrada (opposition) came next; Villar (opposition) followed; Gilberto Teodoro (Gloria’s candidate) landed fourth. It could have happened that if Aquino III were not a candidate, Estrada could have won.

In a petty rivalry among members of the ruling class, Gloria wanted to ensure the dominance of her coalition party.

A case of whether Estrada is qualified to run for an elective office like presidency or mayor has been lodged with the Supreme Court. (Estrada is presently mayor of Manila having won in 2013 election.)

Collusion with the Catholic church

The Roman Catholic church in the Philippines is a member of the rich ruling class in the Philippines. It enjoys privileges like landholdings and non-payment of taxes on for-profit businesses. It also encroaches into Philippine politics.

Elective officials tolerate these privileges in exchange for endorsement by the Catholic church of candidates who run for elective positions in the government. Of course, there is a Catholic vote. Eighty percent of Filipinos are Catholics.

This list of adverse extremes that the rich ruling class in the Philippines had done is not exhaustive. Expect more to be inflicted on the poor masses.


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2 comments

chateaudumer profile image

chateaudumer 2 years ago from Northern California and the Philippines

An excellent hub showing that Philippines politics is dominated by the rich-an oligarchy and not a true democracy. Voted up! Cheers!


conradofontanilla profile image

conradofontanilla 2 years ago from Philippines Author

chateaudumer,

The Philippines is a democracy only in form but not in practice. Thanks for the votes.

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