The definition of corruption

CTALK - Cito Beltran - The Philippine Star

One of my seasonal sources of information regarding political families recently shared with me a quotation from a powerful and influential legislator who defines his philosophy of corruption with this statement: “If you use me, I will use you. But I will make sure that I use you more.”

That’s the sort of statement that keeps me on guard when I deal with a number of people today. The fact of the matter is anyone or anything related to politics and getting into the circle of power or position in government will always entail “using people” or, as we in the media say, they are “user friendly” or only friendly when they want to use you.

There is really no avoiding the possibility of being used or manipulated by certain groups or individuals in order to fulfill their agenda or their battle plan. The only good thing about engaging with these users is you get to gather information that is not normally available in the open, filter them and cross check the information or claims and some acceptable amount of truth comes up to the surface.

For instance, I have confirmed it on at least three occasions that there is a continuing effort to “tar and feather” First Lady Liza Araneta Marcos simply on the basis of being the sister of one Martin Araneta who, in like manner, has been set up to look like a “Boss” or big time operator or influencer at the Bureau of Customs. Considering that the Marcoses and the Aranetas only recently came into real power, common sense dictates that one does not suddenly become “The Boss” at the institutionally corrupt BOC.

There are far too many “idols” and “gods” deeply entrenched in the shadows of the BOC and, like hyenas, they will not quickly or easily relinquish their place and fortunes. Assuming that Martin Araneta is such a slick operator and has managed to get some of the action, why pin the donkey’s tail on the First Lady’s behind? As the biblical retort of Cain goes: “Am I my brother’s keeper?”

If Martin Araneta was such a crook, how come no one has “worked him over” or exposed the guy? Every time I ask the question, the operators always change topics on me. Ironically, while the online attackers keep bashing the Araneta siblings, the same critics are silent on the controversies inside the Bureau of Customs. Reports from the port of Cebu label the “unlegislated taxation” or increase in facilitation fees as “anti-business.”

To the question “Why target Liza Marcos,” well, it seems that after the not-so-merry-go-round in positions at Malacañang as well as repeated blunders that have occurred in the past few months, rumors have it that the First Lady is now doing the backroom organizational management as well as oversight of the Presidential Management Staff, which is one of her core competencies and strengths in the private sector.

Before Liza Marcos made her presence felt at the PMS office, the word was that the PMS was directly influenced if not controlled by someone outside the office of the President. With Liza Marcos participating, the balance of power and influence reportedly tilted towards the best interest of the executive department.

In addition, two sources have told me that First Lady Liza Marcos has slowly but visibly linked up with former legal associates as well as well-known officials and members of the “Yellow movement” or supporters of the Aquino government. One “insider” explained that the Yellow people helping Liza Marcos are apparently great lawyers and are even better “gate keepers” who’ve “been there – done that” and have slowly but surely placed checks and balance in the appointments and power play among people surrounding President Bongbong Marcos.

Even a non-fan of the First Lady described the situation as “choosing the lesser evil.” In his words: “The Yellows are effective watchdogs, always looking for ways to benefit the public and are amateurs at making money for themselves. The other groups, meanwhile, are hell bent on making money out of government but have no thought for what can be done for the people,” not to mention their reckless appointment of questionable individuals or association with people facing court cases.

For example, one of the close “we-bulong” allies of PBBM recently recommended a certain individual to handle matters concerning issues with the DILG. A quick check of the individual on the internet revealed that the would-be consultant was publicly branded as an influence peddler and fixer in the previous administration. As far as “palakasan” or influence peddling is concerned, someone told me about a very close friend of the presidential couple who, like many others, assumed that closeness and campaign involvement was enough to get them their dream job or juicy post.

The so-called close friend had listed down three choices, beginning with a Cabinet position, head of the Bureau of Customs or a prime post at the DOTr. He got NA or None of the Above. Instead he got a minor posting that looked more like his penance for presumption. Fact is many other individuals have set themselves up as strong candidates for high or lucrative positions only to be burned or so embarrassed they had to go to the US or somewhere to recover from the shame.

I have no doubts that the attacks against Liza Marcos will carry on until the President points his assets in the military intelligence community in the direction of the attackers online. Given the right incentive, those individuals would quickly point out who their handlers are and who is the principal operator and financier. I dub thee “Rasputin.”


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