Corrupting God’s name for political gain

Oscar Quiambao
'Among Philippine politicians and celebrities, God is always on their side especially when they are caught robbing their constituents blind'

The only time Vice President Jejomar Binay can invoke the name of God as witness to his innocence of the charges of graft and corruption is if he can explain how he and his family were able to legitimately accumulate such an enormous amount of wealth in such a short span as government functionaries. (READ: One step ahead: VP Binay lays out 2016 campaign message)  

“Before God and people, I hold my head up high and say I never received or asked any money for the project or any project in Makati,” Binay said in response to multiple accusations that he received kickbacks from Makati projects and used his friends as dummies to conceal other ill-gotten assets. (READ: ‘World class prices’ for Binay’s parking building

Of course, God cannot testify before the Senate blue ribbon sub-committee investigating the alleged malversation. It would have been proper for the touted next president of the Philippines to appear at the Senate hearings, whether they are being done to advance the personal agenda of his political enemies or in aid of legislation, instead of making a mockery of a democratic process to cross examine his accusers.

GOD'S NAME. Philippine Vice President Jejomar Binay invokes God's name when speaking on corruption allegations against him and his family. Photo by Rappler

By basking in the security of his mass appeal, Binay is also beseeching his loyal supporters to have faith in him rather than get distracted by the “lies” being peddled by his opponents.

For sure, the poor residents of Makati won’t bite the hands that feed them with free medical and dental insurance and a matching $23-cake on their birthdays. Meanwhile, the Binays’ rich neighbors in Forbes Park don’t want to fall out of their good graces, especially since some of them are in bed with whatever schemes the Binays are profiting from.

The 14 million or so Filipinos who voted him to the vice presidential office in 2010 were stupid enough to ignore the multiple cases of graft filed against the Binay patriarch that led to the Sandiganbayan ordering his suspension as then mayor of Makati. (READ: The Lord of Makati: Can Binay explain his wealth?

Among Philippine politicians and celebrities, God is always on their side especially when they are caught robbing their constituents blind, or like when then child actress Janice de Belen testified in tears on live national TV to justify the bulge on her tummy: “As God is my witness, He was looking after me.”

Whether you’ve stolen billions of pesos like how much the Binays are accused of, or snatched a purse while riding in tandem, you don’t actually burn in hell, if there is one anyway, as long as you go confessing your sins. At the most, the priest would sentence you to a penance of praying 10 “Our Fathers” and five “Hail Marys” to receive forgiveness. Unless you’re a jueteng lord, then you go up to the higher pay grade of a papal indulgence, preferably a donation of a brand-new “Pajero” for the bishop’s private use.

Ours is a religion so tolerant of corruption that it would send off a plundering Senator Bong Revilla to jail with a Mass. For a nation so blinded by its faith in the Roman Catholic Church, our public servants respect the prohibition in the Ten Commandments that “Thou Shall Not Steal” the way we follow the rules on traffic.

Jojo Binay could still well be the next president. He steals alright (unless he proves it otherwise). But who’s in Philippine politics that is honest and electable? Nobody can claim to be a white lily – not even the men of the cloth who sell their votes in bloc to the highest bidders like the Iglesia ni Cristo, or play footsies with the powers-that-be in the guise of “critical collaboration,” like how the late Manila Archbishop Jaime Cardinal Sin danced the night away with Imelda and the Marcos regime’s “constitutional authoritarianism.”  

But unlike Revilla, Senator Jinggoy Estrada, and Senator Johnny Ponce Enrile, who are all in jail for allegedly pocketing their shares of the PDAF loot in full, at least the Binays are giving back some of their kickbacks to the community. Like an overpriced birthday cake worth P1,000 ($22.34) from a bakery reportedly owned by one of the Binays’ dummies. – Rappler.com

Oscar Quiambao is a businessman and former business journalist from Manila who now lives in the San Francisco Bay Area. These are excerpts from his column which was originally published in Philippine News, a Filipino American weekly newspaper in the United States and a content partner of Rappler.