Just my opinion
By Raïssa Robles
On its own, the Catholic Church can greatly help reduce corruption and political dynasties by banning all elected officials from standing as “ninong” or “ninang” in weddings and baptisms of those not related to them up to the second degree. The ban can be lifted the moment the politician leaves office.
I know it goes against the grain of Philippine culture. And I know I sound naive, maybe even un-Filipino. But let’s face it: this is one practice that has enabled politicians to extend their political influence way beyond their bloodline. It has allowed them to convert non-relatives and strangers into one vast, extended political network based on personality, favors and largesse. The unspoken agreement is that the newlyweds will be obliged to the politician-sponsor never mind if he had been involved in an anomaly or he was non-performing. In return, the politician might give jobs, government contracts or other political favors to his “inaanak” (godchild) or the latter’s parents.
I am asking the bishops to do this because they have long advocated a change in the political culture of patronage and this will be an immense contribution to that change. I am also challenging them to walk their talk.
Because of this practice, Filipino politicians have always focused on building political networks based on personal ties, gratitude and favors (paid for perhaps using taxpayers’ money) rather than on political principles or public service Government procedures in hiring and bidding and licensing are bent to accommodate godchildren and their parents.
In the Catholic faith – at least according to the priests who give couples a spiritual talk before marriage – wedding sponsors are people expected to guide the newlyweds in their new life, including in the spiritual aspect.
But this is just mostly talk. The reality is that the “godfather” practice has long been perverted by politicians as a way to keep them in office indefinitely. I remember Joseph Estrada, when he was a mere senator, telling us Senate reporters that his days were filled with going to every “kasal, binyag, libing” all over the country. He credited his vast network of “inaanak“, which he started building up as a town mayor, to his election to the upper legislature.
When the crowd started gathering along the Edsa highway to pressure Estrada to give up the presidency in January 2001, then Cavite Governor Ramon “Bong” Revilla stepped onto the makeshift stage at Edsa and shouted, “Ninong, bumaba ka na.” (“Step down, Godfather.”)
The fact that Revilla called Estrada “Ninong” showed that the relationship had meant something to him.
The practice is rampant and socially acceptable, it seems. Some journalists even ask sitting high officials to be their wedding sponsors.
The Catholic Church and Philippine politics have long allowed the practice of ordinary people acquiring a powerful “Ninong” politician.
However, the same is also practiced by wealthy businessmen whenever they marry off their children or have them baptized in Church. It is in these situations where the practice can seriously pervert governance and lead to corruption, especially when these wealthy businessmen need government approval of franchises or contracts or licenses or state permits for their corporations. How many times has a high government official overruled a disapproval by a subordinate official in order to favor a godchild or a parent of his godchild?
That politicians expect something in return for becoming a “ninong“or “ninong” – and this relationship was not just for any spiritual or Christ-like purpose – was brought home to me by some remarks made publicly by Senator Juan Ponce Enrile. In his published memoir, Enrile indicated that he expects some form of gratitude from his godchildren, and they should help him in turn when he is in need.
On page 672 of his memoir, Enrile talked about how one of his godchildren failed him big time when he was arrested by the government over the 1989 coup attempt. He wrote:
“that coup attempt forced the government to act against me with even more vehemence. No less than then Secretary of Justice Franklin Drilon who came from ACCRA, the law firm which I set up years before and who was my wedding godson when he married his first wife, Violata Calvo, ordered me to be charged with the crime of ‘rebellion complexed with murder and other serious offenses’ – a crime that the Supreme Court had long ruled as non-existent in the landmark subversion case of People vs. Hernandez and People vs. Lava.”
Again in 2013, when Enrile delivered a privilege speech in the Senate lambasting fellow Senator Miriam Santiago, he also pointed to the fact that Senator Miriam was his godchild:
“But levity aside, what I know, Mr. President, is that after her graduation from the UP College of Law and her bar examination, I hired her in 1969 to work for me in the Department of Justice where I was then the Secretary of Justice. When she got married, she asked me and my wife to be her wedding sponsors.”
Dear Bishops, please ask around – how many godchildren does the average Filipino politician have? Or the top politicians have? And where do you think they get the money to buy the wedding and baptismal gifts? Do they charge it to their office representational expenses – in other words, to our taxes? How many political favors have they granted to their “inaanak” and their parents? How many political favors have they asked in return?
Do you think this “religious” relationship leads to better governance? Or perverts democracy?
Please remember that the most famous “godfather” in literature was that created by Mario Puzo in his novel – and while the fictitious character wasn’t an elected politician he operated exactly the same way Filipino politicians do – through personal favors that would be called in.
Banning elected officials from being “ninong” and “ninang” in weddings and baptisms of Filipinos not related to them by blood or marriage up to the second degree does not even need any congressional legislation or Comelec-administered referendum. All it needs is a directive from you all in the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines. Which is expected to meet at the start of every year.
There are sitting politicians who no doubt do not like the practice — and implications — of being made godfathers. But when strangers or prominent businessmen come to their office to request such a favor, how do they say “no” without angering them? So a ban will help politicians say “no” and not spend much needed money for gifts.
I don’t know about you, but I believe it will go a long way to leveling the political playing field and reducing that bond of gratitude that prevents many Filipinos from throwing out rogue politicians from office.
Who is ‘Richard Javad Heydarian’ on Twitter?
Extracts what he wrote title ‘Philippines’ Shallow Capitalism: Westernization Without Prosperity’
“Ordinary Filipinos, meanwhile, also boast about the astonishing fact that the Philippines — among the poorest countries in Asia — is home to 3 out of the 10 biggest shopping malls on earth.”
“Ideologically, the Philippines is largely situated in the Western episteme: Westernized lifestyles and pro-Western socio-political outlooks dominate the Filipino public sphere. One sometimes wonders whether the country has been placed in the wrong corner of the world.”
We are ‘in the wrong place [acc to the writer]
“A closer look at the country, however, reveals a fundamental paradox: centuries of Westernization has not led to genuine modernization, while years of rapid economic growth haven’t brought about prosperity for the majority of the people. The country continues to remain as a semi-feudal (especially in rural areas) society under the grip of a vicious form of crony capitalism. Formal ‘electoral democracy’, in turn, provides a comfortable veneer of legitimacy (for the political elite) and an illusion of egalitarianism in a country mired in poverty and glaring inequality.”
Semi-feudal pa tayo especially in the rural areas. Naka sakal pa tayo sa leeg ng CRONY capitalistas. We are still having illusion and mired in poverty [and in TENTS]. A glaring inequality.
‘Thousands of yuppies’ are employed in this country’s companies. Young professionals exhibiting pretentious or snobbish behavior.
“Today, the Philippines is simulating American-style consumerism without going through the “valley of tears” of state-led industrial development, high rates of household saving rates, and mass production of affordable exports — the very factors, which allowed Newly Industrialized Countries (NICs) such as South Korea to get out of the cycle of poverty in recent times.”
We are into ‘illusion of prosperity.’ Boggling our minds into it.
Preposterous talking about ‘free market.’ Tayo daw yun.
We lack ‘social mobility, merit-based success and knowledge-intensive productivity’ which others like Taiwan or South Korea have.
? ? ?
Not going through the ‘Valley of tears’ . . . we cannot get out of the cycle of poverty now and thereafter.
Link of twitter article http://www.huffingtonpost.com/richard-javad-heydarian/philippines-shallow-capit_b_6441868.html?ncid=txtlnkusaolp00000592
Joe America says
A very direct and thought-provoking article. The Philippines skipped the dial phone generation and went directly to a texting culture. It skipped manufacturing and went directly to consumerism. It skates on thin ice but no one is looking down. The ONE pillar of strength is OFW’s, which is the Philippine version of manufacturing. I’d recommend the nation get cracking at building a manufacturing base, the kind where products go in cardboard boxes instead of pine in some far distant land. Go for the 2 to 4 additional jobs created by each manufacturing job. For the life of me, I don’t understand why the Philippines buys its defense goodies from other nations instead of manufacturing them, or why being a part of the Japanese and Korean outsourcing of manufacturing steps is considered adequate. It is not.
I feel like I’m watching a magician and the economists hereabouts are wearing the capes and pulling scarves endlessly out of their mouths.
Very! as you said it.
Salamangkero = magician, a lot we have.
When the money FUNDS are stolen, incentives are GONE. Too much importations very less inspirations to make our own.
Summa total = jail the corrupts. Gather and make available the FUNDS for better use here.
Johnny Lin says
Why the Philippines is not into manufacturing?
2C- Constitution and Corruption
Constitution- because foreigners have limited ownership 49%, can’t own personal properties. Big foreign banks could not engage in big loans to manufacturers due to Constitution( this year foreign banks can set in PHL thru executive order). Let’s see the impact on opening of new large foreign companies.
Corruption- just getting permits from national and local offices capital outlay of capitalists will be consumed from corrupt employees for grease money getting necessary permits. One permit needs at least hundred signatures. If the manufacturing plant is established corrupt officials will suck the profits like BIR, DENR, Immigration, Customs, yearly renewal of permits and poor quality of workers because politicians would like all their friends and relatives employed in the plant or allow dirty stalls selling contaminated food around the entrance of the plant(workers get sick, productivity affected). Federal Express, Ford and Couple of drug companies leaving the Philippines are classic examples, next to leave is Mitsubishi.
Result: only Service oriented establishments flourish like Telecom companies, local commercial banks, restaurant chains, real estate and condos, stores for dry goods, medicines and jewelries because Consumerism is the result of money earned from outside source(OFW) and easy money from corruption.
Joe America says
That makes sense. I do see some push in the right direction in a few areas, like with the Competitiveness Council’s work to simplify business permits and Ban Aquino’s pro-competition (anti-trust) legislation. It is a blow when big primary manufacturers leave, and I’m surprised there are not splashy senate hearings on THAT. Not popular amongst the public, I guess. Manufacturing is not a glamour business. For the life of me, I don’t understand why there is no defense industry in the Philippines. Mom and Pop manufacture guns, but not Defense. Defense buys them outside the country.
Invlude FUNERAL PARLORs and MEMORIAL PARK @ Johnny … Walang kalugilugi …he he
Johnny Lin says
Lugi na yung memorial park at Funeral home.
Gusto mo mag negosyo. Orno itayo mo na chain sa bawat bayan.
Cremation na fad ngayun.
directors of funeral homes often cannot be bothered with registering the dead. too lazy to hand in paper work. kaya, those wanting to check their family origins and ancestry often cannot find record in the national registry. dead family members might be buried in cemeteries but no record of them dying.
talking about funeral urns, I’ve read that a lake in switzerland bumababaw na raw. naging hazard sa mga nag-bo-boating. sumasadsad sila. divers were sent to investigate and found out the bottom of the lake is full of funeral urns. millions of them. been there for years and years. apparently, people has been throwing ashes of loved ones in the lake, the urns thrown as well.
Libre embalsamo…may kabaong pa…
The drawback is the Constitution is drafted like a ‘straight jacket.’ Cha-Cha reform on that. Economic provisions should be ‘flexible’ with ‘Unless Congress provides otherwise by law or Presidential acts. . .bla bla.’
Drafters of fundamental law always are ‘nationalistic’ especially to ‘natural wealth/treasures’ of the country: lands, mines, minerals, etc. Again, provisions on these should be ‘flexible’ upon action by Congress or President, when feasible.
Kulang sa isip. We are like digging our own graves when it comes to enacting our laws etc. Too many signatures for a simple PERMIT. Why make such permits GOOD for so many years – 5 years maybe, like Drivers’ Licenses. Registration of vehicles is a heckable task every year.
Isip. Ideas. One bad trait of us, we think like we’re inside cans of sardines.
Like this – idea,
“As @Buddy said, “there are times when we need to be unFilipino” to makes things better. Sell this idea we should start…kahit dito lang sa usaping “sponsorship” ng politicians.”
[[email protected] at #33.3.1 here.
manuel buencamino says
A ban is the easy way out. No I think the Church is duty bound to instruct its flock that weddings, baptisms etc are sacraments that should not be used for expediency. Besides, a ban does not lead to an understanding of the culture of patronage and the harm that it can do to a society. A ban would be sweeping the probem under the rug instead of confronting it. A ban is like fast food.
On the part of the RCC: pastoral action
On the part of the State: legislation
Sacraments should not be used as venues for conspicuous consumption.
he, he, a ban is like fast food, yet so many people go for fast food like pizzas and hamburgers despite the fact fast food may not be good for health. time and again, fast food sells. companies that sell fast food are doing well and are even listed in the stock exchange. ban people from doing things and chances are, they’ll do it. manuel, you mean well, but give ban a chance. it might surprise us.
Under the “ethnic culture” thing “multiple sponsors” are condoned. See link here:
For the ban to prosper, as in the case of the masons, the politicians’ “sponsorship” must first be condemned as anti-Christian.
I believe it will be cultural change…oftentimes hard to take place.
As @Buddy said, “there are times when we need to be unFilipino” to makes things better. Sell this idea we should start…kahit dito lang sa usaping “sponsorship” ng politicians.
For everyone’s convenience, this is what I was referring to as regards “multiple sponsorship”:
So, due to cultural ethnicity, “multiple sponsors” are condoned and not banned.
Thanks for the quoted information. I did not know that because when my two children were baptized, we followed the old, traditional (non-multiple) sponsor practice.
Business World (BW) reports SWS surveys first. On December 22, 2014 BW reported out the result of SWS survey done from November 27 to December 1, 2014 about the top three choices for president. Binay, Poe and Roxas got 37%, 21% and 19%, respectively, enough for Binay to be merry during the Christmas season.
It is a wonder to me why BW reported out only today about the satisfaction rating of Binay as a result of the same survey period mentioned above. Is it because Binay’s score is on its all time low from 52% last September to 44% in December?
I noticed also that PNoy’s satisfaction rating from the same survey period was reported out on December 10, 2014, which rating increased from 34% in the third quarter to 39% in the last quarter of 2014. Meaning that Binay’s satisfaction rating could have been reported out by BW on December 10, 2014 instead of today or a month late.
Fourth Quarter Social Weather Survey Satisfaction Ratings Media Release Dates:
Source: SWS Media Releases Archive here: http://www.sws.org.ph
Re historical release of Pnoy’s trust rating versus that of Binay, it may be similar to an opinion writer having a lot of juicy items already ready for release if he wants to. But no, he does not; rather he apportion these through several releases. The motivations of the opinion writer and SWS may be similar too.
Other than the needed time to collate the facts of each survey and the option to give the President’s satisfaction rating at a given period longer time to be reflected upon…
You are spot on, @NHerrera.
I knew you would react.
I mostly admire the work of SWS and its leadership. but these questions as well as questions about the previous sws survey asking respondents for 3 presidentiable names that you and others raise are very deserving of urgent and candid explanations.
Platform or Charm?
Policy or Personality?
Political Party or Individual Popularity?
Philippine elections tend to favor the second option.
As one of the probably many explanations, the survey on the “3 presidentiables” tests “NAME RECALL” and “POPULARITY.”
BW serves the business community and my reading of the business community is that in general it sees binay now as the horse they can ride on- easily. he may be a son of a bitch but if he is our son of a bitch then it is ok. so what else is new. i hope to god that it is nonetheless waiting to see another candidate emerge who will be good for the nation and for business too.
I thought along the same line as you until I read @baycas data on historical release below — about which I commented also under said post.
Going back to my suspicious mind: The two SWS data for the Nov 27-Dec 1 2014 period seem at odds — on the one hand, 37% voter preference on a multiple listing method (3 best to succeed Pnoy) when compared to Pulse Asia’s 26% — an apparent “surge;” on the other hand there is the decline in net trust rating from 52 to 44. But then there is the historical data presented by @baycas.
Notwithstanding the historical release data, pursuing my thoughts in the second para, we know from our previous exchanges that the 37% if corrected for the bloat effect of multiple listing, is close to PA’s 26% (+/- 3). Thus, suspicion is allayed especially since trust rating by its nature is different from voter preference.
To me satisfaction, approval or trust ratings are of the same kind and specie. Pulse Asia (PA) has approval and trust ratings while SWS has satisfaction rating. Aside from these PA does poll rating for the top one presidential wannabe while SWS does the poll rating for maximum of three choices without any ranking.
PA reported the approval and trust ratings for November survey of Binay at 45% and 44%, respectively. SWS had the satisfaction rating of Binay for the November to December survey at 44%. Almost identical. For the September survey, they were 66% and 64% according to PA and 52% by SWS. Same downward trend at a significant pace.
It appears that the survey on satisfaction, approval and trust ratings done by PA and SWS are comparable. But the poll ratings for the presidential position are NOT of the same feather. Meaning that the 37% rating of Binay by SWS does not signify a rating higher than the 26% by PA. This has been previously explained adequately by NHerrera, to which I concur.
In other words, whether it’s satisfaction, approval, trust or poll rating, Binay had it at record low. And it seems that the steep downward journey of Binay is IRREVERSIBLE.
After reading your comment, I note that I was comparing apples and oranges (presidential preference vs trust rating).
You compared trust/ approval numbers of PA and SWS — which is the proper comparison. And you showed correctly that the trust ranking have the same downward trend although with different numbers.
Re your last paragraph — I share the same sentiment.
Thanks for the comment.
The Catholic church has her own niniongs and ninangs…
Table 1. Archdiocese of Manila’s stock investments
Company Shares Value
BPI 327,904,251 P30 billion
First Phil. Holdings 463,238 P41.64 million
Concrete Aggregates Corp. 102,609 P7.18 million
Central Azucarera de Tarlac 42,652 P3.97 million
Philex Petroleum 402,641 P2 million
ISM Communication Corp. 56,020 P84,030
Philodrill 25,357,500 P 456,435
Should be ninongs…
…that’s lotsa of money! Just curious…where did the invested money come from? Bishop I love to be!
He he he
This is info from 2011 Leona..
money invested in the phil, not overseas. not hidden. okay sa akin yan. better invest money than piss it against the wall. unlike money invested overseas, money invested in phil helps taumbayan, can be use by taumbayans. catholic church has donated money to the victims of yolanda. they have charity organisations too and help support the poor. I dont begrudge the priests their investments. it’s good not to waste money. what I dont like is when priests show off thier expensive watches, chunky gold chain necklaces, prada shoes, rings on their fingers, brand new suvs when they already have later model suvs.
I could be very wrong, but I think, the money does not belong to any bishop or priest, but to the whole catholic church. priests and bishops come and go and get buried with only the clothes on their back, but the money stay in the organizaton that is the catholic church, invested and re-invested over time. there are priests adminstrators that are good money manager, economists and accountants, they knew where and how to invest money.
After the War, accordingly “Fr. Jose Antonio Diaz,”aka Fr Hayes; Severino Garcia Sta Romana, et al and other used names formerly of the OSS and CIA was entrusted by the Vatican to take charge of Vatican gold buried on the Philippines. The claims of the “Vatican gold” was identified as bullion that had been “captured by Hitler” and that had belonged to the royal families of Europe and been placed under the trusteeship of the Vatican. It also includes gold bullions that was plundered by the Japanese under General Chichibu and buried in the Philippines.
in our country, the catholic church is self generating, got their own printing and publishing houses, bookstores, schools and colleges, also hospitals in towns and major cities. as employer, the catholic church is quite competitive and pay to employ the best people for the job, teachers, professors, doctors, nurses, etc. the church can afford to do all this as they dont pay tax.
The Vatican money – about $600 million got lost. . . kaputs! in that Ambrosia Bank, a Mafia run bank.
Na karma sila. And suspiciously, Pope John Paul 1 wanted an investigation. He appeared ‘shock-in-death’ one morning. No autopsy was allowed by the Karmalenggo of the Church at that time. Bury fast. Hide fast. Was that pope poisoned? Nobody knows.
My question on #31.2 was meant that – all the money of the CHURCH comes from members! You and Me.
Did you know there was one pope…the Pope in Red, who was not allowed to sit and reign as pope…I think after the demise of Pope John XXIII. That red pope was exiled somewhere. He was known to be anti-communist through and through during the Soviet era.
Click google, try to read it…very interesting history. The RED POPE.
The Cardinal SIRI thesis
I mean ‘the Pope in Red’
google website for more of the STORY in mystery. . . 1958 year.